Thursday, October 22, 2009

Out and About

I’m on the road for work or vacation just about every month of the year. I don’t know about you, “dear reader”, but I just can’t help myself when it comes to paper. No matter where I am and no matter if it is for work or pleasure, I am known to stop in my tracks to step into a stationery store! I also like to visit customers whenever possible.

At the beginning of September, I logged in a visit to Envelopments, and got to see the cool work environment that Mark and Deborah Smith have created for themselves and their employees. The vibe is collaborative and California cool. Employees can wear jeans every day (boy did I feel out of place in my dress!) Their warehouse area was organized and clean – so pleasant for all the workers in that area who were doing their thing when I stopped in. The outdoor space at Envelopments even includes a little Zen meditation area! Everyone I met was a happy employee. Impressive!

Here’s a pic of Mark and Deborah at the office.

I was in Italy at the end of September through the beginning of this month, and while in Rome I went to visit NSS exhibitor Luca Natalizia, of Natalizia. Luca’s family also owns Cartoleria Pantheon, a wonderful little store located off to one side of the Pantheon.

Here’s a glimpse of the storefront, as well as a shot of the giftwrap on display on the sidewalk just in front of the store.

I also stopped in the large chain La Feltrinelli – there are a few in Rome – this one was in Largo Argentina. I would liken La Feltrinelli to a Barnes & Noble here – they have everything from books, to music, to journals to greeting cards. Here are a couple of covert shots from inside the store.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Greeting Card Association’s annual Convention in Scottsdale, AZ. The Convention is just one of many highlights of the year for me, as it is always inspiring, enlightening, and honestly – it’s just plain fun to hang with leaders in the greeting card industry. One of the discussion panels during the convention was called “The Realities of Retailing” and four local retailers discussed their businesses. They were so very generous to share their information and insights, and as you might imagine, they had a rapt audience – we were all attentive and taking notes! Afterwards, I had the happy opportunity to visit 2 of the 4 stores represented on the panel. The Paper Place (this store is family owned and operated, and has been in business for 31 years) and Celebrations in Paper, which owner Rene Showalter opened in 1997.

Here’s a photo of the many invitation albums at The Paper Place.

And check out just a slice of their greeting card offerings. This store is fab – and I spent some $$ there on holiday cards and general greeting cards (could not resist several gorgeous cards from J&M Martinez). I loved visiting with store owner Nancy Silver – and fully expect to see Nancy in May at the NSS. Her sister Betsy (also co-owner of the store) was on the discussion panel earlier in the day. Thank you, ladies for your time!

Down the street and around the corner is Celebrations in Paper. Rene has an interesting set-up as she shares her space with a florist. This is advantageous to both businesses, as they work so often with wedding and party planners. You can bet I happily plunked down a few dollars here, too. (Hello to Brent and Charmaine of Yellow Bird Paper Greetings –I picked up a birthday card and a thank you card of yours here). While I was visiting Celebrations in Paper, I met up with a few other industry folks!

Here’s a picture showing those who stopped by. From left to right:

George White, Up With Paper; Nicky Burton, Calypso Cards; Rene Showalter, store owner; and manufacturers’ representative Chuck Nelson, who works with the stores in Scottsdale and the region.

Visiting retail stores and the talented people behind the products we all love to buy, use and mail is certainly a passion for me. The people in this industry are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet – including yourselves, without a doubt! If I’m ever in your neighborhood, I’d love to come and visit!! (o:

- Until next time, Kelly

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