Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Paper Gossip

I confess—I just love going to the hair salon. Not only do they torture my stubborn, naturally curly locks (temporarily at least) into a sleek, straight and shiny mane, but I get the guilt-free chance to catch up on many of the celebrity/gossip magazines that stock the salon’s “library.”

So, there I was, somewhere in between the latest news about Angelina and Brad, when an ad caught my eye. “Young people do everything on line—like order millions of magazines…” The message of the ad went on: “Contrary to popular misperception, the phenomenal popularity of the Internet has not come at the expense of magazines…Readership is actually increasing and adults between 18-34 are among the most dedicated readers. The medium that some predicted would vanquish magazines is actually helping fuel their growth. And vice versa.” The tag line read “The Power of Print.”

This short but meaningful message got me thinking about NSS’ own recently launched marketing campaign Paper Power. I believe that this theme serves as a very important reminder of the value and purpose of our industry in a time where things are changing at a record pace. Especially over the past 15 years, as the Tech Revolution has spread around the globe, I’ve listened to dozens of conversations about the fate of the stationery industry. Many worried that the growing acceptance and use of email, ecards and evites would decimate the social stationery, greeting card and invitation business. Would Gen Y and Gen Z become “paperless” generations?

As a similar ad in the uber-popular Wired magazine persuades, the wired lives we all lead have only served to underscore the value, influence and need for tools of expression which are “enveloping, embracive and immersive.” Technology has not robbed paper of its impact, its unique ability to deliver the message “I care.” Indeed, in our jam-packed world of tweets, texts, and social media, paper has taken on a higher perceived value. Email is an everyday thing. Few, if any emails, are memorable, and none serve as keepsakes. But nowadays, a letter, a handwritten note, an invitation, a beautifully wrapped gift stand out as even more special, irreplaceable experiences. When the message, occasion, and most of all the person really matter, we still use paper to deliver treasured expressions of connection. Movies didn’t slay the enjoyment of radio. Television did not wipe out movie attendance. And high touch and high tech continue to grow, influence, and enhance each other. As sales of thousands of wedding invitations, millions of greeting cards and billions of dollars can attest, paper will continue to remain a profitable and powerful part of our lives.

Speaking of paper, it’s been several weeks since I last visited My Bella Beauty Salon. While my hair still looks great, I’m trying to think of an excuse to drop by the shop anyway. There’s an intriguing article on George Clooney I didn’t get the chance to finish reading…


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The NSS Has a New Look!

Check out the new look of the NSS community website – Chock full of new energy and great content (we think!), it features the first of three YouTube videos on the Home page, beginning with Trendspotting at the 2010 NSS. The next two videos roll out over several month leading up to May 2011, and highlight the many faces of the Show and our industry.

The site also reveals the Show’s 2011 marketing campaign “Paper Power”. Paper Power encompasses the impact of paper both as a product category and as a medium. Paper is profitable, high touch, personal, diverse, colorful, fashion-forward, on trend, a statement of personal taste and style - and is more in demand than ever by the end user! Pretty powerful indeed.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Camp Greetings

So the girls are off for their summer fun – one is at camp and the other, seeing the world. Boy, are they lucky! I remember my years as a camper; first ½ the summer, then the big 8-weeker kicked in, and then on to a career as a CIT and Counselor! No matter what age or stage, one of the best parts of the day was when the mail came in (in those days the package “restrictions” weren’t rigid and the boxes of fun, and candy, of course, would pour in). If you send your kids to camp, you know what I mean about “package restrictions”!

If I could send packages to my daughter, I would pack them with fun things she could do in her bunk with her buddies – lanyard string, stickers, jacks, mad libs, beads, silly string, a deck of cards and her favorite Starburst candy – not ½ the snack cupboard, money, extra clothing, clandestine electronics and the like that created the whole package restriction thing in the first place! So, to what do moms and dads turn in droves? Greeting cards! We send cards somewhat in excess I must admit – and would do so regardless of whether we could send packages or not!

There are so many fabulous cards out there, some camp-specific, but many are more general fun, cute and adorable “I miss you types” like the Carlton Card I sent today that simply says “Me? Miss You?” And on the inside, “Only all the time.” Of the 20or so I have stockpiled to use this summer, this card is the only one that doesn’t have a picture; the design is all about the typeface. But, I will tell you that animals rule in the “I Miss You” department – monkeys, puppies of all breeds, mice, bears and of course, kittens - are the most popular images. My arsenal includes cards from Avanti, American Greetings, Design Design, Recycled Paper Products, Carlton and Hallmark, versed with sentiments including:

“If I sent you a card every time I thought of you, you wouldn’t need a mailbox…You’d need your own post office!”

“On a scale of 1 to 10…I miss you a million!”

“Just sending you a little hug…Did you feel it?”

“You’re always on my mind… And always in my heart, miss you.”

On the back of the envelope, I, of course, embellish with stickers of all varieties and glitter. The one time I literally sealed with a kiss (kissing the back of the envelope like my mom did) she was mortified and begged me never to do that again! Corny, I know.

I run to the mailbox everyday so I have my “aha” moment when her letter is there awaiting me. She’s equipped with some of the best Camp stationery and postcards “this side of the Hudson” designed by Penny Laine Papers and purchased from the store I call “Camp Central,” Scarsdale Child’s Play.

So, in a couple of hours, I’ll be thumbing past the bills and credit card solicitations, eager to read about water flumes, ziplines, soccer, chili dogs, painting, jump rope and more contained within the envelope carefully addressed in the script of my eighth grader and embellished with, you guessed it, stickers and glitter.

Happy summer!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

There’s just nothing like the USA…

Nothing brings your hand to your heart faster than playing the Star Spangled Banner. This week the theme will resound as towns across the country commemorate freedom with marching bands, confetti and brilliant fire works. Yep, the 4th of July is a national holiday and this year America celebrates its 234th birthday!

History buffs claim the red of the flag represents valor, white stands for liberty or purity and blue represents loyalty and perseverance. And in the past few years, there’s been a noticeable increase in these colors being flown around town. People will wear the appropriate red, white and blue as they pass out hot dogs at the annual barbeque. (Hopefully they stacked up on Hangables’ food-safe acrylic bowls!) Tables will be set with themed color napkins and paper plates. Paper stars and little flags will adorn coasters and banners -- just look at the festive designs from Caspari! Party favors will be tied up with sassy ribbon from companies like Ampelco and houses will be decked out with red, white and blue streamers.

What a great thing to be able to express freedom, to stroll down Main Street without a care, to disagree with a neighbor in a fun and friendly way or exchange ideals with someone who’s new to the area. It’s good to live in America!!

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Enjoy these simple precious things while sipping a cold one! Set aside a few minutes to remember what the colors of our country represent. And have a wonderful 4th of July!!

Later… Alyson

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Change: It’s a great thing

Change is a part of life. Everything changes eventually. Sometimes the change is within our control and sometimes it is not. Some changes seem like they should be in our control, but in reality have already been made for us.

Take my wedding for example. Last time we spoke, I told you that it was going to be a fall wedding at my mother’s house in central Virginia. Maybe we would have a harvest theme; maybe we would have a string quartet play us down the aisle…

Well, none of that is happening anymore. Now we are having a destination wedding at a resort in St. Lucia - pretty big change. This was decided by my fiancé who, apparently, did have a “picture perfect wedding” in mind all along (I’d told you that she did not).

At first, I was a little freaked out. I mean we had to scrap all of our plans and start fresh. Also, none of our extended family would be able to come to the wedding due to the added expense and time. But then I realized that everything would pretty much be taken care of for us. And once we spoke with our wedding planner, Sharon (who is included in the resort wedding package), I knew that we had made the right choice. Sharon has been amazing, we give her our vague ideas and half thought-out plans, and she gives us a finished product. She has had options for even our most random wishes. Working with a wedding planner is wonderful; she is a one-stop for all of our questions.

With a change of wedding venue comes a change of wedding theme. Here are just a few of the new invitation options:

L'Oiseau from Hello!Lucky

kurai from Smock.

Foliage from elum

So, what do you think?

Pretty different from the browns, oranges, golds and reds of an autumn harvest isn’t it? Different, but good. Change is taking me somewhere I probably never would have gone otherwise, that’s what change does.

Good times…

- Aaron

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dads and Grads (you expected something else?)

In case you haven’t heard, Father’s Day is just around the corner (Sunday, June 20), and there’s still time to run out and buy Dad a gift.

I was chatting with Doni Luckutt yesterday, who brings the company Simply Alive! to the NSS each year. She reported that she had a good Show, and met with some great retailers. She’s still working with them finalizing their orders. (Note: not all orders are placed at the NSS, and Doni knows the importance of post-show follow-up! Way to go!)

I mention Doni because she has a lifestyle column in the Denver Post, and told me that she was writing about Father’s Day. Her angle is coming up with different gifts to suit different types of dads – she said she’s covering “Sporty Dad,” “Techie Dad,” – even “Sentimental Dad!” And guess what? All of her gift suggestions come from companies that exhibited in the May 2010 NSS. To see her picks (article available on Friday, June 18), click here.

Of course, a Father’s Day card is essential. Picking up on Doni’s idea, here are my card suggestions.

For Sporty Dad, here’s a great card that “covers all the bases” from J & M Martinez.

The inside reads “Happy Father’s Day.” J & M Martinez is distributed by Calypso Cards.

I’ll take “sporty” to another level – how about “He-man” – or “Gym” Dad? Here’s a “strong” choice from Up With Paper:

For the king of the castle kind of Dad, here’s a card that bestows the crown from Night Owl Paper Goods.

This card is letterpressed on 100% reclaimed & recycled cotton ecru cover paper. So it should appeal to the Eco-conscious Dad, too!

For the cool dad, here’s one from NobleWorks:

The inside reads: Happy Father’s Day to the best Dude I know.

My dad had a great sense of humor, and I definitely would have given him this great card from Selfish Kitty, which is also distributed by Calypso Cards.

The inside reads “You know, like on Mother’s Day.” Too funny! My mom would have appreciated the card, too!

I have to put this one in from Nobleworks, as well. My dad would have identified with it completely. In fact, I may have had this exact conversation when calling from college:

The inside reads: Happy Father’s Day to my favorite benefactor. That card really would have been perfect for “D.O.D.” as we called him. (Dear Old Dad). Ah, I miss him.

For sentimental Dad, something from Leanin’ Tree:

The inside of the cards reads: For being silly, for being strong, for being there, for being you. Love to you on Father's Day and every day.

For the life of me, I could not find a card out there for “Techie” Dad. Please, everyone, feel free to post your suggestions for this – or any category!

Finally, how about those Grads?! Around here (suburbs of NYC) some kids haven’t yet crossed the stage. Because we had so many school closings during the winter, the school year had to be extended ‘til the end of June!

Here’s a great graduation party invitation from Checkerboard:

Hannah Rodewald, owner of the store The Pleasure of Your Company, in Lutherville, MD (near Baltimore), has a great blog, She talked about graduation in a recent post, and I found a few great graduation cards from Quotable Inc. there. I lifted my favorite, as it seems to be what my life has been like, so I would give this card to any Grad!

Wise words. Or as some car commercial says “Enjoy the ride.”

I am told by many retailers that Bald Guy Greetings is a popular line in their stores. So, here’s one from the funny guys at Bald Guy:

Reminds me of a few other words I see misspelled a little too often!

And for the Grads themselves, who will likely be receiving cards and gifts, may I respectfully remind them to send a personal thank you note for the riches that they will receive.

This thank you card comes from Roger la Borde in a boxed set:

I love the layered look and the printed inside of the envelope.

Or, one might like the elegance offered here by Crane & Co.

So, here’s to all the great Dads and awesome Grads in our lives. May you live long and prosper!

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And the Winner is…

Happy, sad, seasonal, supportive, congratulatory, condolence and the like. How to say it or convey it has become a meaningful industry. For 22 years, the Louie Awards have offered recognition to all those who put their best foot forward in the greeting card industry. Here you’ll find winners of “Handmade”, “Superbly Stated”, and “The Judges’ Choice”, just a few of the fifty-six categories.

Entries are judged by imagination, impact, artistry, harmony, send-ability and value. And can you imagine -- over 1,000 cards from over 170 international publishing companies were judged by members of the Greeting Card Association and fellow industry professionals! It’s an annual testimonial to those who help make it so much easier to express our feelings.

This year a special category was added. “The Young Entrepreneur” award found its way into the hands of ten-year-old Ian Meier, whose handmade cards are selling like hot cakes in the Philadelphia area. The young designer says that making cards “gives him a good feeling” and he was absolutely thrilled to be part of the night’s festivities. And what an event it was.

Young Ian Meier in his element gages his future industry!

The Louis Awards were held last night at The Lighthouse at the Chelsea Piers where merriment persisted and dancing topped off the evening. Cards of the nominated categories flanked the entrance. Nominees beamed, knowing how important the awards are. And like the many sentiments that are expressed in their cards, the room was filled with warmth, good wishes, and lots of happy faces. It was a fun-loving crowd emphasizing the importance of the very industry they serve.

It’s good to be acknowledged by your peers…. so make sure you swing by the Louie Awards area at the back of the 3600 aisle to see who’s won what! You might even send them a note of congratulations! Yep, there’s time. The National Stationery Show runs through Wednesday, May 19, 2010. See you there.

Lisa Manley of Butinski Design and Stacey Hagarman of S.E. Hagarman, both first-time entries, were vying for “The Rising Star Award”.

The crowd awaits the announcement of “The Card of the Year”.


Monday, May 17, 2010

NSS 2010 is Buzzing!

The aisles are buzzing at the 64th annual National Stationery Show! It's only Monday afternoon, but so much has taken place already. From celebrity book signings and incredible in-booth promotions by exhibitors, to packed seminars and Daily Demos...never a dull moment!

My favorite so far, you ask? The Opening Night Party at Battery Gardens, and the reveal of the new Butterfly stamp by the United States Postal Service.

The Opening Night Party was hosted at a new venue this year, with panoramic views of New York Harbor and Lady Liberty. The outside venue was perfect after a day in Javits, and well received by all. A true Manhattan experience...

And just this morning, dignitaries from the USPS were onsite for the First-Day-of-Issue ceremony for the Butterfly stamp, a new $.64 stamp specifically for square or irregular shaped envelopes, developed in collaboration with the Greeting Card Association. As Patti Stracher stated in her welcoming remarks during the ceremony...such a symbolic event...the launch of a $.64 stamp for the industry, at the 64th annual NSS. In case you missed the big reveal, here is what you'll see popping up on envelopes in the very near future.

Enjoy the rest of the show for those of you who are here!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Good Eats In NYC

Wow, do I love to eat!! And one of the reasons why New York is such a great event city is because of all of its restaurants. From greasy spoon to ultra fine tablecloth, there’s a selection to be had.

One of the more interesting websites for finding good eats is Register for free and every few days you’ll receive news about a good eats deal. It could be a free bottle of wine, a free cheese platter or 30% off your dining bill. Eateries of all kinds are included in this -- from very new places to very established restaurants like Aquavit or Cipriani.

You’ll receive the “deal” via email. You’ll have 24 hours to decide if you want this deal. It’s a one day only invitation but you get a pass code and thirty days to use it. These places are not sluggish little cafes that are hurting for business, so make a reservation whenever possible. It’s a great way to entice you to try many different types of restaurants in many different neighborhoods.

So when you’re in NY for the NSS, don’t just stay in midtown. Take a cab, take the train, take the bus, and try something different. Life is good. Go take a big bite out of it!

Have fun! Alyson

Friday, April 30, 2010

Lists, lists and more lists

What’s on your “To Do” list? How do you keep it? I got intrigued with the question after viewing the exhibit “Lists” at the National Portrait Gallery in DC this past February.

Check out this packing list by Adolf Konrad. I love it. Plus it looks like Adolf was a pretty dapper guy! Does anybody out there know anyone who creates a list like this?

Guess what? “ There’s an app for that!” There really is; you take pics of your clothes and create outfits with it – think InStyle pages, but with your clothes.

Speaking of InStyle , In the April 2010 issue, the feature “Life, etc.” profiled Rory Tahari, creative director of Elie Tahari. Rory has just come out with a book, "Lists For Life: The Essential Guide to Getting Organized and Tackling Tough To-Dos” I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m interested in knowing what’s inside.

By the way, I’m happy to give a shout out to InStyle, as some of its editors are registered to attend the Show again this year!

Here’s another list I thought was interesting - a list Pablo Picasso made recommending artists for the Armory Show in New York. Look at that handwriting!

So, how does the Show Manager of the NSS keep her list?

In a nice Lily Pulitzer notebook from Lifeguard Press (we must admit to a certain addiction to these). Patti makes nice neat check marks when she's gotten something "off the list."

Laura Susi works in our Operations department (she’s the one you can thank for arranging all the shuttle buses we have on-site, among other things). Here’s her method of keeping a “To Do” list – a flower-shaped sticky note!

And finally, mine. I like to use 2 pencil colors – one to make the list, and the other to check off with. I use an “X” for done, and a "/" for when something is part-way done.

How do you keep your lists? Anyone doodle? Do you use pens, pencils - is an eraser a bad thing, by the way? Meaning, who wants to erase something, when you can check it off the list and feel that sense of accomplishment? And on the topic of of erasers… we just booked Fashion Angels into the Show! Yay. Check them out for their line of cute puzzle erasers… Hi to Sarah!

That’s all for now. So much to do in the next couple of weeks before the Show. Looking forward to seeing everyone on-site at the Javits very soon!

Until next time - Kelly

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Get Smart!

It seems hard for me to believe, but I’ve been developing retailer education programs for almost 20 years now. Those two decades translate into over 500 seminars, endless retail roundtables, product demonstrations, make-it-and-take-it events, and all sorts of keynote addresses. I’m still passionate about programming educational events for trade shows, because these buyer education programs make a real difference for store owners large and small, novices and veterans alike.

I was reminded of the impact of educational events while speaking one year with a wonderfully talented and successful retailer, Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Carolyn owned five retail stores in California and Las Vegas, and all of them were thriving. Every year at the California Gift Show, Carolyn always would come to a variety of seminars, demonstrations and networking events, and I was fascinated that she would take time out of her very hectic buying schedule to attend so many events. Finally, I asked Carolyn why, and she replied: “I come because I’m always open to learning how to be better at what I do. I come because if I pick up one idea, one suggestion, one tip, one skill that serves my customers, and makes money for my stores, then my time was well spent. And I come because nowhere else can I meet face-to-face with industry experts for such a small investment.”

Buyer education programs are one of many things that make the National Stationery Show such a productive expertise for our valued retailers. And what a lineup of authorities we’ve gathered together for 2010! Linda Cahan is an internationally recognized expert in visual merchandising and store design. Leading trade magazine editors Sarah Schwartz and Caroline Kennedy are trend gurus. Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Weddings, Darcy Miller, is one of the foremost authorities and sought out speakers on the bridal market. Peggy Post carries on her family’s illustrious history as an heir to the Emily Post Institute’s famous guidelines for social etiquette. Stacie Francombe is on the cutting edge of the lucrative wedding market. And Patricia Norins, publisher of Gift Shop magazine, along with Carolyn Howard-Johnson -- who has transitioned from being a top retailer to a best selling author and speaker on retailing, promotions, and the social media -- will facilitate two intensive roundtable discussions on today’s most in demand subject.

Fun and entertaining are the Daily Demos on the show floor. These spot-on presentations provide terrific tips, techniques, tricks and ideas that you can readily bring to your stores to create excitement and stimulate sales!

Knowledge is power. Plan to become more powerful with the help of the National Stationery Show’s expanded and in-depth educational programs!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools!

April Fool’s Day is one of those holidays that I’ve always hated. Blaming it on my shy personality and lack of creativity, it’s a day that I annually spend dodging my brothers, ignoring my friends and finding tranquility in my calm, prank-free home. What about you? Are you the top prankster in your company or the shy girl hiding in the corner? Either way, I will admit that it’s a fun holiday. Check out some April Fool’s worldwide history I found on!

• In 1962 the Swedish national television did a 5-minute special on how one could get color TV by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV. A rather in-depth description on the physics behind the phenomena was included.

• In 1980, the BBC reported a proposed change to the famous clock tower known as Big Ben. The reporters stated that the clock would go digital.

• In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell." When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied tongue-in-cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

• In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side. Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger.

• In 2008, all featured videos on YouTube's front page hyperlinked to the Rickroll. The prank began with international YouTube portals before appearing on the main site. In 2009 the videos, links and most text (using Unicode substitution) were turned upside down and there was also a link to help users view the new site layout with hints such as hanging the monitor upside-down or moving to Australia.

• Expedia ran a prank on 1 April 2009, offering flights to Mars. This was internally known as Project Dawnstar.

Pretty funny stuff! I can’t help you with any good pranks but I can tell you something that’s going on this April Fool’s Day here at NSS Headquarters that is true…some of our seminars are close to being sold out, our sales team surpassed their sales goal for March way before yesterday and the National Stationery Show is only a month and a half away… Now that’s no joking matter!

Until next time,

Thursday, March 25, 2010


What, too busy to blog – who me? Here I sit at 5:01 pm on Thursday realizing that I haven’t had a moment to myself today to write and “publish” this week’s blog. And it’s my turn. Hmmm… What to share…

We have been so busy here on the NSS team that we hardly have time to say hello to each other! The phones have been ringing non-stop with vendors looking to book exhibit space - lots of exciting new companies coming to the Show this year. We’re psyched – the Show is going to be great!

Our exhibitors new and experienced have an excellent opportunity (FREE) to reach out to the Show’s buyers this year. Exhibitors, please check into the “marketing opportunities” section of the website next month to learn more. We know that buyers love to receive information about who’s exhibiting ahead of time. Don’t miss this great opportunity to tell them about your company’s participation!

We already have 3,500 new buyers registered for the Show. That’s a lot! Of course, this number doesn’t even include the thousands and thousands of buyers about to receive their badges in the mail. Exciting! And we know there will be more buyers registering in the next several weeks leading up to the Show. We really are looking forward to a busy Show with bustling aisles.

I can’t wait for this year’s Opening Night Party! The new venue, Battery Park Gardens, boasts a great view of the Statue of Liberty. It’s always fun to get together on the after the first day of the Show is done. The energy is always high and palpable. – Funny, just as I was writing this an exhibitor called me to ask about this party! (We’re looking forward to seeing you at the party, folks!)

Another question I get asked often enough is about hotels in the City. Please know that I have not stayed at every single one of them. (Though it would be fun to attempt to do so – I just think it would take years!) We have a great variety on “the block” that Travel Planners puts forward – and most are on the shuttle bus route to the Javits Center. Check out photos and shuttle bus info on our website, and book your accommodations soon, if you haven’t already! Rooms are filling up fast.

One more thing - as I was about to conclude this blog, I received an email from an exhibitor who asked about getting help with in-booth sales. Help is available! If you have reps, of course ask them to spend some time with you in your booth meeting customers and taking orders. If you don’t – or you just need to staff up, let us know – we’ve got resources for this, and can recommend you to companies that provide exactly this kind of service.

So, that’s it for now from me. Big hellos to the entire NSS team – you’ll probably read this before you see me, we’re all so busy!

Until next time -


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Students: The Force Behind the NSS New Product Display

Seems like it was not so long ago that I was a college student searching for internships and volunteer work to boost up my rather meek PR & journalism resume. Obituary writer for the local weekly newspaper…coffee runner for a local PR firm…intern for my college PR office...and the list goes on.

They all sucked the life out of me, but I graduated college with a respectable resume and great references that helped me land my first job. Never mind the salary, which was even more humble than my resume was just one year earlier.

For the 2009 National Stationery Show, and again this year, I have been privileged to work with a select group of visual merchandising students and faculty from Manhattan-based LIM College to design and merchandise the NSS New Product Display. From the ground up, this display is all them. This special focus area is the first glimpse buyers get of the hundreds of new products launching at NSS, immediately after they walk through registration. To these students, it’s a highlight for their resume…a feather in their cap.

The social stationery industry is no different than any other. Current students are our future. They are our future designers, artists, retailers, manufacturers and more. So stop by the New Product Display and give these students the kudos and encouragement they deserve. You will like what you see, so don’t hesitate to snag one of them up for an internship or volunteer project before it’s too late. They are at the NSS to build credentials and network – just like you and me back in the day.

See you soon,

PS – If you’re an exhibitor and haven’t submitted your new product(s) yet for the Best New Product competition and display, you have only until April 12 to do so. Enter today by clicking here (scroll to bottom of page).

Monday, March 8, 2010

One Person’s Perception is Another’s Reality

The days are getting longer as the show is getting closer. So many pieces are coming together both here at GLM and within our exhibitors’ businesses. New product releases, new booth displays, celebrity appearances, artist signings and other in–booth events in the making – these are just a few of the things that will make the Show so exciting for retailers.

But what retailers want most when they put in time and money to visit a show is to see vendors in booths that are filled with products and warm sales people ready to serve them!

This brings me to what is most on my mind after looking through the non-exhibiting manufacturer badge requests last evening. As an industry event – and one that takes place only once a year – surely everyone wants to be there. But, attending the Show in a way that best represents your business and best serves your customer is a very tactical decision.

Attendee and exhibitor badges are different colors, so at a glance the difference is clear. All badges include business type, job function and company name: Retailer, Owner, The Paper Place; Retailer, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Target; Manufacturer’s Rep, Owner, Roadrunners; Exhibitor, President, Design Design, Exhibitor, Owner, Smock Letterpress.

Non-exhibiting manufacturer (NEM) badges are denoted the same way: Non-Exhibiting Manufacturer, President, ABC Company. Non-Exhibiting Manufacturer, Creative Director, DEF Company. When established companies that should exhibit don’t, and instead attend, it sends a peculiar message to the retail customer walking the show: Why isn’t company ABC exhibiting? Is the business in trouble? Isn’t my business important enough to invest in presenting the lines to me in a booth? And, to the industry peer who has spent real time and money to exhibit and in front of whose booth the NEM stands talking to the retailer that the exhibitor has paid to see, the mindset is one of real frustration: How in the world does the NEM feel right conducting business in front of my booth? Why the heck aren’t they exhibiting? I’m going to talk to Patti about how wrong this is!

The bottom line in my head and heart is that no matter on which side of the business we sit, all of us want the social stationery industry to have a thriving future. There is one industry show – the National Stationery Show. This is where you see or you’re seen, you buy, you sell, you learn and you network. And a healthy show is one that reflects its industry at its best and most diverse, serving its customers – exhibitors and buyers - in the most productive and fair way.

I hope that if you are one of the people that have requested a NEM badge, you will call me to request a booth instead, sharing the stage with 900 of your industry peers who have fully committed the continued health of the social stationery industry.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Planning a Wedding: How One Man Is Doing It

Everyone tells you that planning a wedding is a lot of work and can almost become a second job. As I was growing up I heard this and kind of shrugged it off. Ever since I was a little boy, I knew that I wanted to get married someday; commitment-phobic I am not. But, I always assumed that the woman I would marry would plan the wedding. Actually, I thought that she would have the wedding already planed, long before we even met.

So I guess it only makes sense that my fiancé grew up not wanting to get married at all. There was nothing planned or thought out, no dress that she wanted to get married in or song she wanted to dance to. She was actually kind of anti-marriage.

Now we’re getting married this fall and it seems that the lion’s share of the planning is falling (no pun intended) to me. To be fair she is definitely helping out and is more than willing to give her opinion on anything put before her, but I am the driving force behind our committee of two.

So, what do we have so far? I don’t think that we are doing too badly. We have a venue, my mom and step-dads patio in central Virginia; we have a guest list; we have a “theme”, harvest time with an extremely casual dress code (shorts and tee shirts will be allowed). What we have the most of, though, is ideas. We want letterpress invitations (our colors are those of the fall) and we will probably want a tree incorporated into them somehow. We want a string quartet for the ceremony, but do we want a live band or a DJ for the reception? I don’t know and neither does she. We want a buffet style meal, but what kind of food?

I know that it will all come together in the end - my fiancé works best with a tight deadline - but for now, having this hanging over our head is stressful. I would definitely welcome any ideas, advice or cool harvest-type options. I know that I will have the opportunity to view a huge selection at the National Stationery Show, but let me know if you have any.

Oh, I guess we do have one more thing, just last night we ordered our “Save The Date” magnet. Here it is:

- Aaron

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Blur

I’m taking advantage of the “work at home” day to write this blog – on Wednesday, instead of Thursday. The snowstorm that is keeping me at home in my pjs and sipping my home-brewed coffee gives me a visual analogy of what January was for me - one BIG BLUR!

Only one week after New Year’s Day, I was on the road visiting with vendors and reps who were hard at work at other trade shows. My “road work” didn’t really end until last week – Thursday, February 4th, to be exact! Whew.

This first “show season” of the year was truly exhilarating. Buyers were out in full force – evidenced by the over-stocked coat check areas in all venues. Speaking as a show management person, this is a great sign of a robust show in a cold climate!

These buyers who crowded the showrooms, escalators, elevators, hallways and aisles weren’t just looking at “what’s new,” they were placing orders! The reps and vendors I spoke with were reporting that their sales were up over the same time as last year, and often in a double digit percentage increase. This portends the end of a bad economy, I’m thinking. Hurray for that!

A number of companies I met with will be exhibiting in the National Stationery Show for the first time this year. In Atlanta I got to spend a nice amount of time with Jennifer Carroll of Jennifer Carroll Designs. Jennifer is already very accomplished – she’s a sought-after event designer with a new book on events in the works, and now she’s designing fabulous stationery. I can’t wait for you to meet her at the NSS!

While in Atlanta, I attended the Greeting Card Association’s reception – that was a great event. There, I got to speak with Bob and Melinda Blanchard from Live What You Love (don’t know them? Check ‘em out before the Show – they have authored a few inspiring non-fiction books, including “Live What You Love” and that’s not all they’ve done.) You’ll love their story and seeing their line at the Show this May. I also got to wave hello to Alan Friedman and Lisa Samar of Great Arrow Graphics. Regrettably, I didn’t get to spend much time with them, but I’m lucky enough to see them a few times each year. I think you know that Great Arrow will be back at the NSS this May!

In Dallas, I was glad for the opportunity to meet Sarah-Allen Preston, of Preston Paper – many thanks to rep Tosha Pearson of Erik Hahn & Associates for putting us together. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time. Isn’t that what trade shows are all about, after all? (Same place, same time). When we met, Sarah-Allen had already signed on for the National Stationery Show, but it was great to meet her (and her mom) in person. She had lots of questions about exhibiting, marketing opportunities, retailers, etc. I was happy we had a chance to scratch the surface on these broad topics and a few specifics. Sarah-Allen told me that she is planning on “attending” our exhibitor webinars offered to NSS exhibitors (and of special interest to exhibitors new to the industry, or new to the show). These webinars start tomorrow (Friday the 12th). Click here to learn more.

In New York, I bumped into (same place, same time) several key reps in the stationery industry who were walking the aisles. Each one of them had a few companies they told me wanted to exhibit in the May NSS. Many thanks to you all, Dan, Kris, and Mario to name a few. I’m in touch with all you suggested.

I also had dinner with a few NSS buyers - each a member of our Delegates program. I was honored to be asked to join the group. They are from disparate parts of the country, and traditionally get together at least once during a show to compare notes about what new things they’ve seen at the show, and what they’ve already ordered. I loved watching them pull brochures, catalogs and sell sheets out of their bags to share information with each other. These ladies also gave me the 4-1-1 on their current top-selling lines, as well as companies they want to see in the National Stationery Show this May. This kind of collaboration with buyers such as Hannah, Edie, Shara and Jean (bet you know them all) and the reps is part of how we work to ensure that the NSS delivers for you – vendors and buyers alike!

Our show floor is filling up fast, and we’re excited for a great NSS to come. Buyers, please make sure you walk every aisle – there are new resources to be found on each one, and many vendors you know have taken new locations. Make sure you register to attend on our website. One buyer emailed me today asking if she could bring an employee with her – the answer is a resounding YES! You don’t have to go it alone – just register your employee online when you click through to get your badge.

Those of you considering exhibiting – now is really the time to jump in and claim your space so that you can get your great line in front of the passionate, dedicated buyers who will be at the Show in full force this May! Drop me a line or apply online.

Until next time -

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine’s Day - To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?

Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. I believed in them all as a child, until that dark day when my older brother ruined the magic for me.

However, Cupid was not one I ever believed in. Not because I never fell in love or thought that boys were “icky” growing up – more so because I found it silly that people had to set aside one day each year to remember to express love to their sweetheart. Should that not happen every day?

So Valentine’s Day comes and goes each year with my husband and me paying little or no attention. He considers this one of my greatest attributes. So it should have come as no surprise the other night, when I said “So about Valentine’s Day…,” that my husband looked up with a scared expression, as if the month of February as he knew it was crumbling down around him. “Maybe we should recognize the day as a way of teaching Brianna about love,” I continued. His response was typical…and correct. “You are just looking for an excuse to buy her a present.” He knows me too well, as I already had this card and gift picked out for our precious 1-year-old little girl.

Pink with red glitter hearts, the Giraffe card by Papyrus will make her smile. The giraffe is her favorite animal (for the moment, at least).

A lover of chocolate already, “Lilly’s Chocolate Heart” from HarperCollins/GreenWillow Books is sure to be her new favorite book.

And for my husband? Well, he will continue to receive the gift of not worrying about Valentine’s Day. Although he will ask – as he does every year – “Am I going to be in trouble the day after Valentine’s Day?”


Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Inside Look at Programs & Events

As the Conference Manager for the National Stationery Show I enjoy seeing the buyer education program come together from start to finish. It’s exciting to learn about the topics being considered, and who the best speakers are to deliver a particular program. Over the past few months the show manager and marketing team have worked hard to put together a comprehensive line-up that will benefit both attendees and exhibitors. Make sure to take a look at the programs & events page for details on each seminar.

The speakers are true professionals – from Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings to Peggy Post from the Emily Post Institute to industry editors – Caroline Kennedy, Patricia Norins, and Sarah Schwartz. There are also some great demos planned presented by exhibitors and other outside experts. These are always lively and in high demand.

Now that the schedule is secure, all I need to do is plan the logistics and all you need to do is register!

Our exhibitors are now registering for the pre-show webinars. We hold sessions to help them learn tips on marketing, operations, visual merchandising & in-booth sales. The marketing communications webinar is fast approaching on Friday February 12th . Want the inside scoop? It’ll cover insight into what makes a great press kit, social media advice, affordable marketing ideas and much more. It’s really perfect for new exhibitors and experienced exhibitors that need some fresh, new ideas. The best part is the opportunity exhibitors have to ask questions and get immediate answers from the trade show marketing experts!

Keep reading our blog for more inside information on the 2010 National Stationery Show!

Until next time,

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Game Change

Wow things feel really good. The fun is coming back, the attitude is great, retailers and vendors are excited, motivated, and open for business!

And, here at “NSS Headquarters” the buzz is shaking the ground. Exhibit sales and buyer registration hit record highs for the month and we scored some very big and exciting news that we’ll release closer to the Show. I really can’t tell you now.

But, I should mention how incredibly pleased we are to welcome back Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus to the Show floor! Great Arrow Graphics, Penny Laine, Odd Balls, Stevie Streck, too! And, how fortunate we are to be partnering with Martha Stewart Weddings on groundbreaking research that we’ll release at the Show. Maybe I should talk about some of the celebrity appearances that we’re working on. And, maybe I should tell you about the fabulous new companies that are launching in 2010. On second thought, I’ll keep those a secret for now.

The next 15 weeks are going to fly by, as we shape the exhibit floor, fine tune all of the educational sessions, special events, hospitality programs, promotions, pr, demos, media tours and so forth. But the fun is back, and we are loving the game change!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Where Do I Go Now?

"If you don't know where you are going, then it doesn't matter which road you take, does it?" These words of wisdom are from the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland.” And it sums up the way that some people we talk to do business – those people who have expressed interest in the National Stationery Show(NSS) for years but when asked if they want to exhibit this year, the reply is “no, I don’t think I’m ready.”

When is someone finally ready to exhibit at the Show? How can the Show be of help to you? What can you learn to motivate and inspire? Is this not THE gathering of social stationery and wouldn’t it be the most educational atmosphere to develop your business and move it forward?

The NSS offers a wealth of information about the industry and for the industry. At other tradeshows, there is no one industry that is so heartily represented by all sides of the business. The experience you gain by merely exhibiting alongside someone who’s been selling greeting cards for forty years is phenomenal. The webinars to help new exhibitors prepare to exhibit are so worthwhile. And, our website offers simple how-tos -- examples of booths and how people actually put together their special look. My favorite, The Mentor Program, is such an advantage for newcomers. Our Operations Department has taken a new hands-on approach to ensure that you’ll have a good show. And there’s so much more…

It’s not all about buying and selling but making connections, seeing how it’s done, networking, working together and getting the guidance and know-how. And it’s all there for the taking. Come join a group of very committed people and companies that make up a very strong industry. Learn and grow at the National Stationery Show. Then you’ll most certainly know which way you’re going!