Last weekend, I made my annual trek from West Texas to the Big Apple for the National Stationery Show (#nss). It was a last minute decision to attend this year (after the added expense of store renovations this spring, I wasn’t sure I could afford it), but when I realized that I had enough airline miles to fly for FREE (plus a small “redemption” fee), I decided to make it happen.
I left EARLY Saturday morning… and one planned layover, two flight delays, one flight cancellation, an extra flight to Chicago and one standby flight to La Guardia later – I made it. A 17 hour travel day wasn’t what I had in mind, AND all of the travel hiccups made me miss my dinner plans at BUTTER (pouty face), but at least I made it to NYC.
Sunday morning when the show opened, I had the pleasure of walking the aisles with my Stationery Academy friend Kari Joy. As I’ve mentioned before, I power shop when I’m in “buyer” mode, so we made one quick lap up and down the aisles before I really dug in and started burning up the credit card.
Overall, the show was good, but I can’t say that I was overly impressed – by anything in particular, really. It was all kind of the “same ole” thing – A handful of really talented (and well known) brands, even more very talented (lesser known) companies, and then lots of… how do I say it nicely? Junk. (I’m mostly referring to the “fresh off a boat from China” section when I say that.)
The truth is, there are A LOT of great vendors who exhibit at the show, but a retailer can only have so many greeting card/paper lines. While I do appreciate seeing new, clever designs, that doesn’t mean that I can actually order all of them. I only took on a few new vendors, and for the most part, I reordered lines that I already know will sell well in my store. The addition of Etsy Wholesale was nice, but since they were mixed in with regular exhibitors, it didn’t make too much of an impact on my buying strategy, which consists of me asking these three questions:
1. Do I need it? (Or do I have too much already like it? No need to trade sales.)
2. Can I sell it? (Is the price point – and content – marginally appropriate and current?)
3. Who else has it? (I love area protection – I work too hard to find something new and different to have it snaked by copycats)
So what DID I buy? Greeting cards, journals, calendars, note pads, gift wrap (that’s a new one for us!), great prints, tea towels, straws and washi tape to name a few. Here are just a few of my faves coming soon to the shop:
Featured: Ladyfingers Letterpress / Wild Ink Press / 1Canoe2 Letterpress / Knot and Bow
If you want to see more products as they arrive in the store, you can follow us on Instagram (@barquegifts).
One highlight of the show was seeing the Stationery Academy booth with more SA friends – Stephanie Creekmur, Jennifer Faught, Josie Parsley and Amy Kinslow. These ladies worked hard to pull everything together, and I think they did a fantastic job!
You know that dinner I was so disappointed to miss? Well, it almost made up for it to see Alex Guarnaschelli in the flesh (walking down the street right next to our taxi). I also had a delicious, impromptu dinner on both Sunday and Monday nights, so it worked out being a nice weekend for my palette too. I loved trying the oysters and seafood at Jeffrey’s (much more fresh than what we get in West Texas!). My favorite detail? Sea salt wells right on the table. I’m just a salt nerd like that, I guess.
As always, it was a quick trip, but one that left me hungry for more – both paper AND delicious dishes. Until next year, NYC!