January 30, 2009
NYIGF Winter Show Part 2: Letterpress at the International Gift Fair
Here I stand before the Jacob Javits statue, about to invoke BBH tradition.
And go... the humping of Javits' leg. Oh! Jacob!
We're currently recovering from a week of trade show madness at my mother's home in Warren, NJ. As always, the shows are hard work. Lots of walking and talking, lots of networking and explaining, making sales, keeping people happy, nursing a weeklong hangover, and maintaining the illusion of an even keel. It's exhausting. We're not used to working these hours-- the normal BBH shift is from 11ish-6 with some late nights here and there (mostly by Mike and myself, and mostly because we want to, not because we have to)-- but for the gift show its 9-6 for five days straight. We are notoriously late to our booth (usually by 45-75 min) and notoriously hungover when we do get in.
I have many things to report. The show went well for us. We were on the main floor of the Javits Center, which is unusual for a second timer at the gift show, and though our prime location should have made us more likely to rake in the dough, it wasn't our greatest show. The overall consensus I received from the oodles of exhibitors I spoke with was that it was an incredibly slow show, which I would agree with. The turn out was low, and the buyers who showed up were extremely careful and prudent about buying.
What might turn what I would consider a fair show into a fantastic show is that Urban Outfitters seemed very interested in carrying a boxset of our Obama cards. If they end up buying then we'll have definitely come away from the gift show feeling like it was all worthwhile. The Obama cards were the hit of the show and I'm extra proud because I haven't been serious about drawing in about a decade and rarely have I used my own drawings for the business.
On the last day we did an online video interview with Guideposts for some Earth Day broadcast that they will be doing. They were interested in us because we were featured in the show's Sustainability Display. The interview went incredibly well. However, I don't think that Guideposts, which is a christian magazine, is actually going to feature us once they go to our webstore and find cards like this, this, this, this, and this.
That's the skinny on what went down in the BBH booth-- but the real excitement lies in what gems I found elsewhere as I wandered the entirety of the gift show. This particular post will report on the presence of letterpress at the NY Gift Show-- though we of the press were lost in a sea of crap, I was amazed by how much letterpress there was to see at the show.
If you read this blog regularly then you already know how much I love Hello!Lucky. Whenever I go to the booth I ask "Where's the new stuff?" and pretty much buy all of it for my store. I'm really excited about getting my monkey on.
I found Red Cap in the New York's Newest category during the summer NYIGF. All of their cards are illustrated by owner Carrie Gifford- I have often likened her illustrations unto Edward Gorey. Though they mostly carry full color cards (offset or digital, I'm not sure) they also have a smaller line of letterpress cards, which when simplified to two color design, are stunning. I placed a small order with them this summer and their line sells better than any line I have carried in the store, and this winter is the first time as a buyer that I've had to reorder a gagload of styles on top of the new stuff they carried.
I also scooped up some awesome journals. Check it.
SNOW & GRAHAM
To be honest, I've heard Snow & Graham's name a billion times but never thought twice to visit them at the countless shows we've been at together-- but I was determined to say hello to every last letterpress exhibitor at the show and of course I ended up dropping dough before I said goodbye.
9 Spot Monk
9 Spot Monk, like Hello!Lucky, is a letterpress outfit run by two sisters-- Vivian and Tiffany. They have a studio right here in New Jersey. I am destined to visit their studio one of these days as I'm in NJ at least four times a year. I'm very interested in seeing their operation as they run Heidleberg Windmills using wind power (ironic, don't you think?)
What sets their stuff apart from other card slingers is their uber-urban style-- much of what they print can pass for grafiti. We carry their cards in the store-- they were the last stop on my tour of the show and I was tapped out of cash by the time I could say hello--but I'm looking forward to see what they'll have at the Stationery Show.
Run by partners Michael and Douglas (Michael Douglas! I'm positive they've never heard that joke before) Motel Deluxe imports some really cool and smartly packaged french goodies, mostly kids toys like building blocks, puzzles and games--- but they also carry a line of letterpressed cards done up by Sesame Letterpress.
I met Motel Deluxe in Atlanta when a friend recommended they stop by our booth-- they came by and bought most of our Alice cards for their famous Manhattan store in ABC, called Cursive. I became extra friendly with them when they told me the Martha Stewart Show visited their store and the producer on site bought up every last Kmart Trash card they had and special ordered a dozen more. I thought for sure we'd eventually be issued a cease and desist if she found out about this card, luckily she has a sense of humor.
The Yee-Haw folk are our favorite neighbors over yonder Tennessee mountains, and a definite MUST VISIT if you ever get within a stone's throw of Knoxville Tennessee. I was absolutely drooling over this 30x42 woodtype specimen, which retails for $500.
Yee-Haw is right up there with Hello!Lucky in terms of huge commercial success, and when it comes to making business and marketing decisions I watch them very closely.
Saturn Press hails from Swan's Island, Maine. Started in '86 in their garage, Jane Goodrich & James van Pernis print super colorful cards inspired by images from the 1870's-1930's. I interrogated them at the last Stationery Show when a distributor who buys their cards in bulk to sell in New Zealand and the UK stopped by our booth and tried to lowball us on our own goods. I wish I had a link to these folks website but none could be found.
THAT'S ALL THE NEWS FOR NOW.
Thank god its over. Stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 of the NYIGF Winter 2009 report.