30 March 2012

Greeting Card Time

Welcome back. Did you know that Americans purchase 7 billion greeting cards every year? Really. That’s what the Greeting Card Association reports. And that tally does not count e-cards. 
With so many cards being purchased, don’t you think that I should be able to come up with a card that somebody wants?
Photo Cards
Example of a photo-card mock-up. This photo was from
the Philippines, early 1970s; the words read, “It was a
weekend to watch the water.” Nice, no?

My first real attempt at cracking the greeting card market was with travel photos. I found a company to query in Writer’s Digest and submitted mock-up cards that featured a handful of my best 35 millimeter color slide photos. No sale. I think I tried at least one other company with the same result.

Around that time, as I mentioned in blog posts last June, my wife, Vicki, was developing a sideline greeting-card business. I volunteered to be a no-cost, creative advisor. Though she may not have even heard my all-inclusive offer, she was more or less accepting of the travel photo-card mock-ups as a separate line of cards.

I rushed the 35 mm slides to a commercial photo processing lab to obtain negatives from which we could, in turn, generate photographic prints. Those prints would be hand-mounted on the cards, and we would of course need lots and lots of photos to fill the many card orders. Sadly, we never saw the slides again.

Tulip Fantasy Greeting Cards 

Unlike me, Vicki lost no time mourning over the lost photo-card line. Her primary card line featured hand-drawn graphics with strong sentiments and a small tulip, hand-colored red. I was able to kibitz, but then my innate creative something or other started spewing forth much too fast for Vicki to duck.

Hey, Vicki, how about a spinoff card line with tulips that fantasize? These cards would be aimed at that niche market of card senders who appreciate tulips with persona and character. The senders would add their own sentiment to the blank inside.

Possibly the only remaining examples of Tulip Fantasy
cards--SuperTulip and the Loch Ness Tulip. 
(Is Vicki an artist or what?)
Wouldn’t you like to receive a card like that? You’ll be shocked to learn that Tulip Fantasy cards didn’t sell very well.

Greeting Card Sentiment Only

Vicki’s greeting card enterprise ended over 20 years ago, when we moved to the Washington, D.C., area. More recently, lying around after back surgery, my innate creative something or other started up again. What if I were to focus on the card sentiment, only the words?

I generated a number of absolutely super sentiments for seasonal and everyday cards--birthday, anniversary, get well, Valentine’s Day, others--and sent them to different greeting card companies.

Only one company expressed interest in any of the sentiments. By the time I received their noncommittal note, however, I had returned to my day job--a rejected photo-card developer, a resigned greeting-card creative advisor, and a rebuffed card-sentiment writer.

Online Shop--Cards Plus

Retired, I’m ready to re-tap my innate creative something or other. I decided to open an online shop.

I was ready to go with one of the websites that allows you to create your own products. Then I spoke with my daughter, Rachel. She thought that, for quality and quality control, I should use a website like the one she uses, Etsy. In essence, the shop owner, not the website, produces and delivers the product.

In a veiled attempt to keep me away from her Etsy shop and expecting that I would be the only buyer of my cards or photos, Rachel offered to set up and operate an Etsy shop for me. I agonized over her proposal for maybe 3 seconds before accepting.

Wrap Up

And so, with this blog post, I am announcing…drum roll…the Grand Opening of the “Retired--Now What? Blog Photo Shoppe” (http://www.etsy.com/shop/retirednowwhat).

The Etsy shop is offering photographs from this blog as prints and blank photo-note cards. We’re starting with some of the more interesting travel photos, but don’t hesitate to ask Rachel for other photos that have appeared in the blog. (Or ask her for Tulip Fantasy cards.)

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll check out the Etsy shop and more of Vicki's tulip cards in next Tuesday’s photo addendum.

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