Anyone who has been exhibiting at a show in the last 8 weeks or so would like a pound for every time they have been asked this question because by now they would have enough to go online to book a holiday!
Yes it is that time of year again; the time that all us retailers get out to the shows with our hard earned cash from Christmas ready to buy GREAT NEW PRODUCTS to help us grow our sales at the beginning of a brand new year.
Having been to Top Drawer, Scotland’s Spring Fair, and Spring Fair, I would say there are plenty of great new card ranges to get excited about whatever genre is popular with your customers. Initial feedback from exhibitors is that the shows have been brilliant, and whilst there may not have been more visitors than last year, those visiting were definitely spending - which bodes well for customers who want exciting new designs to buy.
Stocking cards that are locally relevant seems to be getting increasingly popular, many retailers will have been stocking cards by local artists and photographers for years but there are more national companies getting in on the act - be it Star Editions with images inspired by the golden age of travel poster art, or Bluebell 33 reassuring you that you are the 'Best Mum in Bath'. And there are ranges of regional dialect cards with local words or phrases from your area too.
It was really good to see so many entrants for the Gift of the Year competition in January this year and Really Good’s range Showtime was this year’s winner with their fabulous LED light-up cards. At £5.99 they are slightly more expensive than most ranges but very eye-catching and original.
There were some great new ranges for men too including Paper Salad’s eye-catching range Kaleidoscope which uses great colours and patterns to create strong geometric backgrounds so the captions really pop.
I was very pleased to see that Special Impressions the manufacturers of the beautifully finished flat wrap have now started offering cards too which are as thoughtfully printed , they have some really eye catching cards for men just in time for Father’s Day on this card the icons are embossed and spot varnished.
In terms of design and finish 2016 seems to be the year of foil with the most wonderful colours and tones being used including copper which has real warmth and depth and soft pastels which are very pretty and delicate. A publisher I hadn’t seen before was Raspberry Blossom who were using pretty pastel foils very effectively as shown here with their Canvas Creations range.
Another publisher who caught my eye was Pocket Typewriter and their ranges go from strength to strength, they often print on kraft coloured board with bright neon colours and the result is fun, vibrant and strong but what caught my eye this time was the wonderfully bright lined envelopes. I think this card from their Good Life range is fantastic.
Humour is still really strong and it comes in all guises from Wrendale’s cute and cuddly animals through to the more in your face text based humour from someone like Dean Morris. I was pleased to see that Susan O’Hanlon had added to her hugely popular portfolio with a range called Illustrated which really made me smile.
Last year Lagom launched several very successful ranges of smaller mini cards to sell at below £2 and I was wondering whether other publishers would be following suit this year but there weren’t many other small card ranges that I saw.
Fortunately some things don’t change and talking to publishers about cost and retail pricing, it seems that most ranges will be able to sell between £2.50 and £3 for good quality well finished square cards which is great news for retailers as crossing that £3 threshold on everyday cards is a big step... I remember when we crossed £1 !!
And finally I am always amazed at how problems have a way of turning out alright in the end. I had heard about the difficulties Sue Morrish at Glebe Cottage had when Tullis Russell closed so they could no longer supply the eco-friendly stock that was fundamental to her range proposition and which she loved to print on. After lots of anxiety and research, Sue is now using a 100% recycled product which has stronger environmental credentials - and prints beautifully. Sue said that it wasn’t easy or straight forward to sort out but she was thrilled that her persistence and good supplier relationships won out in the end.
I think 2016 has got off to a great start and look forward to the opportunity to buy lots more NEW cards.