January 30, 2017 •
The Business at Hand

As we ring in the New Year, America enters a new future. According to Statista, North American retail sales are expected to grow by 2.5 percent in 2017, a small rise from 2016’s 2.4 percent. That’s a good sign, but by no means a guarantee of success.

To assure your own slice of the pie, keep your customers engaged and entertained. Shopping needs to remain an experience, full of dazzling vignettes and fun finds they’re not likely to see anywhere else.

Curating an engaging merchandise mix is more important than ever, then — and that starts with knowing your customer. Whatever hand you decide to play, don’t do it halfway. Trust yourself to make a beguiling statement!

With that reasoning, I’ve modified this annual feature, one of my favorites to put together. Instead of showing 12 groups of three design elements and product categories, I am showing six groups of six of each in order to encourage bigger, bolder statements on the selling floor.

Stylistically, you’ll see that the touch of the human hand has never been more important in our quest for authentic connections — as you can see in brush scripts and patterns, illustration-driven designs and even the category I’m calling Coloring 2.0.

Certain groupings speak to a desire to return to comforting traditions and mythology of old, be it folk patterns, mermaids or unicorns. And there is always an underlying desire for utility — even the most luxurious product must serve a function, from desk accessories to pillows to posh partyware. Keep reading to start your own plan for a fruitful year of sales.

Design Elements

Brush Script & Patterns These beguiling black and white designs look not only as though they’re still drying, but as if they’re one-of-a-kind masterpieces!

Copy-Only Cards Be it humorous or honest, sometimes the most compelling message is delivered with just words, albeit ones that are artfully presented.

Folk Traditions Who says these have to be dusty and dated? Fresh interpretations of classic iconography nod to the past as they look to the future.

Illustration-Driven In an automated world, the hand of the artist — and the charming worlds that spring from it — is always welcome!

Mermaids  These legendary aquatic creatures appear in the mythology of cultures around the world — as well as on a compelling array of gifts and stationery!

Unicorns These horned creatures, long a favorite of tweens, have expanded their design reach to include anyone wanting a little magic in their day.

The Chic Desk These selections add a dignified yet useful touch wherever they are placed, be it a home office or a cubicle.

Coloring 2.0  This pastime continues to trend up, so the latest generation of designs will be sure to dazzle customers.

Modernism The simple becomes stylish, and very streamlined, with this clean wave of accessories and décor.

Pillows  These tactile finds add a soft touch to displays as they help customers instantly update their interiors.

Upscale Partyware Everyone wants their shindig to be special — these selections help every event to take on its own posh personality.


Visual Puns While not a traditional product category per se, these smart stationery pieces are becoming so prevalent that customers expect them in any merchandise mix.

Stationery Trends ST Spring 2024 cover
Get one year of Stationery Trends in both print and digital editions for only $15.

Interested in reading the print issue of Stationery Trends?

Subscribe Today »