The Stationers Guild

Archive for 2013

Paul Wainman President of Kleinfeld Paper

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

It is always a pleasure to see decent and capable individuals in positions of leadership in the stationery industry. Paul Wainman, formerly of William Arthur, is certainly one of them. I am thrilled to report that Paul has recently accepted to become the President at Kleinfeld Paper.

Kleinfeld, an icon in the wedding fashion industry, has just launched the first Kleinfeld Paper Wedding Collection to retailers.

Kleinfeld Paper is based in Billerica, MA and offers a wide range of design, print techniques {including engraving, letterpress, contemporary letterpress, multi-color raised ink and digital} and a number of price points in the Wedding Collection.

Learn more about Kleinfeld Paper by clicking on this Retail Link. On this site, retailers can learn about Kleinfeld Paper and also initiate an on-line application process. Once retailers are approved they are able to log into the retailer site where they can place, amend and track orders.

So, take action now and begin the application process to become a Kleinfeld Paper retailer.

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All Is Lost

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

A couple nights ago, Sheila and I saw a remarkable film starring Robert Redford entitled “All is Lost.” Redford still seems like he could rob banks in Bolivia or woo Barbra Streisand (no longer a spring chicken), but no old man should be subjected to the trials and tribulations he endured over 8 days (90 minutes film time).

I don’t think I am giving too much away, but the story line is this: A guy out on a solitary cruise in the South Pacific is awakened by the noise (and water) of a container that has rammed his sailboat. This anonymous container containing tennis shoes from China has simply fallen off of a container ship and shattered what had been an idyllic cruise for Mr. Redford.

The parable with modern civilization is inescapable: Our humanity is being destroyed by the faceless and autonomous march of consumerism. Imagine being beaten into submission by a cheap tennis shoe from China while enjoying a quiet retirement cruise? Redford has a most difficult time coping with the banality of the situation, but he fights the good fight and – for that – all civilization should applaud him. I certainly did.

Lovely.

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Sugar Paper at Target

Monday, October 28th, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I could barely stop laughing when I received an email from Sugar Paper announcing that their 2014 calendars and agendas were now on sale at Target:

Mind you, I would have been impressed to see Sugar Paper at Tiffany’s or Saks or even Macy’s, but Target is certainly not the best retail neighborhood for a company that prides itself on exclusive and premium designs.

I guess I don’t get the “new economics” of retail marketing, but it seems to me that prestigious lines should market themselves in prestigious locations. I can only suspect that young venture capitalists with recent MBAs in social marketing are simply generating short-term market buzz at the expense of long-term damage to yet another premium stationery brand.   Sugar Paper is now just another Target SKU.  Vaya con dios!

Richard May
Founding Member of the Stationers Guild

P.S.  I wish I was making this stuff up, but to paraphrase author Carl Hiaasen “the real news is far funnier than anything I can make up!”     I agree with him.

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Is Felix Doolittle on your Shopping List?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Earlier this year, we had the great pleasure of re-establishing contact with Felix Doolittle, who is one of the best design artists in the stationery industry.  For several years, Therese Saint Clair carried his delightful stationery which simply makes you want to put away your cellphone and smell the roses once again.   Mr. Doolittle captures the details of everyday countryside life in a nostalgic and amusing way that inspires you to share his artistic designs with distant friends and family.

Now you can!

We were both trilled and honored to receive one of the first albums from Felix featuring delightful return address labels, correspondence seals and holiday motifs.    Words cannot describe the elegance and simplicity of these moving designs and it strikes me that they would make great gifts for the holidays and superb hostess gifts.  Gifts that are personalized are always more meaningful.

Felix Doolittle Return Address

For those that are looking for something a bit more substantial, I would suggest some of Felix Doolittle’s superb stationery.  With talented artists like Mr. Doolittle continuing to share their inspiring creations, the world is certainly a better place.

Felix Doolittle Stationery

While many of Mr. Doolittle’s superb designs are online, it is always best to shop for personalized stationery at a bricks-and-mortar store in your neighborhood.  If you happen to be near Greenwich, CT, do drop into see us and tell that that Felix inspired you to get off the beaten path and have an “encounter of the first-kind” with fine stationery.  We think you will be glad you made the effort.

We look forward to seeing you.

Sheila P. May
Therese Saint Clair

P.S.  For stationers interested in carrying Felix Doolittle, give him a ring and see if he has any spare albums so you can properly represent his work in your market.

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Is change afoot at Crane?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Some people accuse me of being reckless,”too pushy” or dangerously aggressive.  Perhaps this is so, but I suspect that remaining patient and keeping my opinions to myself are likely to lead to a most painful descent into business failure.

As one who comes from a business and financial background (over 20 years in international banking), I have found that owning my own business to be a liberating experience.  No longer do I have to put up with bureaucrats and disingenuous business managers making silly and harmful decisions to further their own careers at the expense of shareholders.   Sadly, it was far too common in my previous line of work.

Being independent and “calling your own shots” is certainly liberating, but when key  ”partners” in your business success take decisions which drastically affect the nature of your business relationship, it gives rise to concern.  Readers who follow this Blog regularly are aware that I have been particularly outspoken about the many “apparently” silly decisions  taken by Crane to restructure their operations.

I use the qualifier “apparently” because I have no idea whether the management decisions taken by Crane are “silly” or “brilliant.” As a “Muppet” there is no reason why I should have been consulted by the “Masters of the Universe,” but I know from much experience in my previous life that outside consultants rarely have anyone’s interest at heart other than the person who hires them.   In fact, the mere mention of “outside consultants” generally indicates that “something is rotten in Denmark” and that a palace coup is underway.

Sadly, my misgivings were worse than I anticipated and I am still uncertain whether Crane will be able to “right the ship” and reemerge as a positive influence on the stationery industry.   While still rather pessimistic,  I have noticed some positive signs beginning to emerge on the Crane website.

  • The silly link to Paperless Post is now down (or at least I had difficulty finding it on the Wedding Page);
  • You can now find Crane personalized holiday cards on their website rather than links to Mother and Father’s Day cards;
  • The website is beginning to look as though someone is taking the time to update it and add graphics and images that are somewhat professional.

These are very good signs that suggest that change is afoot at Crane.  I, for one, certainly hope so.  Maybe they will even get around to reinstating an affiliate program and help its dealers promote the Crane line.  That would be nice.

Richard May
Founding Member of the Stationers Guild

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Lallie Emerges from the Ashes

Monday, September 30th, 2013

In July I was terribly disappointed to report that Southworth was closing Lallie.    I am now thrilled to report that Stationery Works Inc. has “purchased” Lallie and as Owner Shannon Reber reports “There are busy days ahead as trucks with equipment, inventory and design files make their way from Massachusetts to Ohio starting this week!”

Needless to say, those in the industry who treasured Lallie’s distinctive line are thrilled.   Ms. Reber asks all Lallie dealers to save their Albums.  Sadly, we have pitched quite a few, but still have our Christmas and Moving albums.

In any event, let’s toast the resurrection of Lallie and give thanks to Stationery Works for recognizing the beauty and originality of this iconic line.

Richard May
Therese Saint Clair

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You Are Not Alone

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

For those that were beginning to feel alienated and despondent because the only thing you receive in your mailbox are bills (unless you have gone paperless), I am pleased to report that “You Are Not Alone.”    Sadly, your companion is the National Security Agency (“NSA”) rather than any higher being.

The New York Times now reports that NSA is tracking social networks in an effort to find the “bad guys.”   Hopefully, they won’t pry too much into the lives of people who are just trying to have a little fun, but this would run contrary to the way “Big Government” really works.

I – for one – sincerely hope that our secret service was steaming open letters as they did during World War II to track down treacherous villains.  Consider what a huge boost this would be for employment rather than requisitioning server banks across the United States to do the heavy lifting.   Mind you, with more budget sequestering in the wings, it is unlikely that NSA will be able to continue to pay Google,Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter to share their “private” user records with our security agencies, Homeland Security and the IRS.

In the old days, we were amazed at the phrase “six degrees of separation.”   With these recent disclosures, it seems that our lives are now just intrinsically intertwined as a digital footprint sitting in some remote server waiting to be dissected by ET.  How charming.

As I reported earlier on Shutterfly and NSA, our lives are an open book.    The “right to privacy” is frowned upon by all governments so please spare your crocodile tears for more worthwhile cause like who Kim Kardashian is dating now.

Richard May
A Champion for Lost Causes

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Shutterfly, NSA and Privacy

Friday, September 27th, 2013

I have never been a particularly “private” person because I suspect that I don’t have much to hide that anyone else would find particularly interesting.    Presumably, most Americans feel the same given the lack of outrage at NSA’s questionable surveillance practices.   President Obama states that “folks” (i.e. “fellow Americans”) support the argument that our “benign” government will only use these draconian surveillance practices to capture terrorists who are “up to no good.”   For politicians who have difficulty defining “what is, is;”  I suspect that voter confidence in the institutions that theoretically protect us is probably not warranted.

This is not intended as a treatise on civil liberties, but merely to point out that our “right to privacy” is most likely an oxymoron.    Sadly, there is a tendency to believe that more information makes you a more knowledgeable person.   I suspect this is not the case, but I don’t yet have enough information to know for sure.

For those concerned about “privacy,” how do you feel when you learn that Shutterfly has “full rights” to use your photographs as they see fit?  Sure, you retain “ownership” of your family photos, but Shutterfly is free to do anything it wants with them.    Read below the Shutterfly Terms which appeared in an online forum (DaveGuy)

“In the event that you post or upload to the Service, or otherwise submit to or through Shutterfly as part of your use of the Service, any materials including, without limitation, photographs and other images, text, graphics, videos, visuals, sounds, data, files, links and other materials (collectively, “Submissions”), you will retain ownership of such Submissions, and you hereby grant us and our designees a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable (through multiple tiers), assignable, royalty-free, fully paid-up, perpetual, irrevocable right to use, reproduce, distribute (through multiple tiers), create derivative works of, and publicly display and perform (publicly or otherwise) such Submissions, solely in connection with the Service ( including without limitation for purposes of promoting the Service ). Please note that, while you retain ownership of your Submissions, any template or layout in which you arrange or organize such Submissions through tools and features made available through Shutterfly are not proprietary to you, and can be used by Shutterfly and others for any purposes. You acknowledge and agree that you have no rights in any such template and/or layout, and such template or layout shall be the sole and exclusive property of Shutterfly.

Even if you are not a lawyer, these Terms of  Use by Shutterfly seem pretty clear.   Now I understand why Kim Kardashian doesn’t use Shutterfly:  No Royalties!

If you are planning to use online printers for your holiday photocards this year, make sure that you are comfortable with the fine print.   You might not be happy to find a photo of your new baby being used as the poster child for Pampers.  I wouldn’t.

Richard May
Therese Saint Clair

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GLM and the 2014 National Stationery Show

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

GLM announced some major changes to the National Stationery Show by introducing a new “branding platform” called “signature mix” marketplace which incorporates Creative & Lifestyle Arts and “Gift>it – Distinctive Gifts.  Fabulous Finds.

According to GLM, “these events will provide a unique combination of synergistic lifestyle products at a time of year when retailers are refreshing their merchandise and continuing their holiday buying.”

“’Annual events provide unique opportunities that differ from their semi-annual counterparts,largely due to the scope of participants and the content of the event from beginning to end. What’s so exciting here is the product combination within signature mix™ – a first for the industry. It will provide a fresh, new experience for both the thousands of buyers that have attended NSS over the years, as well as attract a breadth of new buyers to the marketplace,’ said Patti Stracher, show director.”

I see this as a positive change for the stationery industry as traffic has been declining for several years and it was becoming more difficult for bricks-and-mortar retailers and stationery vendors to justify the cost of attending the NSS.  ”Signature Mix” seems to add a new dimension to the vitality of the Show and this will hopefully entice those sitting on the fence to book their reservations now.

Editor’s Note:  Sadly, the Winter National Gift Show conflicts with the Superbowl which will be played in the Giants/Jets stadium on February 2nd.  Hotel prices are likely to be astronomical in New York and – more to the point – the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a Super Storm for Superbowl Sunday.   Bricks-and-mortar retailers may want to consider giving the NYC Gift Show a pass this year.   If you can hold on until May, the re-branded National Stationery Show may just be your cup of tea.

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Facetime on the Crane Wedding Page

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

As Guild members are aware, I have always encouraged our vendors to promote their brands online.  In fact, I have always encouraged bricks-and-mortar dealers to do the same and support the brands of our vendors.   All I requested  in return was for personalized stationery and invitation vendors to give dealers the proper tools to market our vendor brands effectively and transparently:

  • High quality promotional images to market to the public online and;
  • An affiliate program to compensate dealers for their online promotional efforts.

The objective was to use the same sophisticated marketing techniques that online marketing firms were using (Tiny Prints for example) to drive traffic to our stores.   The affiliate program was there to compensate dealers for their marketing efforts in the event that the online client decided to purchase directly from the vendor.    I had always thought that this would be a win-win for both the dealer and its vendor.

I still think it makes a lot of sense, but sadly both vendors and dealers have decided to “do their own thing” and most likely with unsatisfactory results.   Our vendors have probably been duped by some social media “consultant” who spends most of his or her time skiing in Aspen or Vail and assumes dealers are not “hip” because they allow their cell phone battery to run down.

I am sad to report that Crane and William Arthur have effectively have terminated their affiliate programs despite the sophistry and misinformation of their mangement.    While many – and perhaps most – of Crane’s dealers do not have the time or technical skills to participate in vendor sponsored affiliate programs, the fact remains that Crane “branding” will occur online and you – as a bricks-and-mortar dealer – are unlikely to see any benefit.  In fact, Crane’s rocket-science consultants have stacked the deck against you.

Found below is a very revealing example demonstrating how vigorously “Paperless Post” – Crane’s new darling of branding ineptitude – is promoted on the Crane website to the detriment of their traditional dealers:

Crane Credibility Gap

If the Paperless Post image looks out of place on Crane’s wedding page, it is!   Scroll down below and you can see that some heavy-handed and not particularly clever “webmaster” simply lifted the image below and put it above the all-SEO-important  fold-line.

Presumably, the young folks at Paperless Post insisted on better online representation for their shoddy designs.

The LOSERs are Crane’s bricks-and-mortar dealers and Crane itself, but they simply don’t know it just yet.

Despite “feel-good” missives from the Company, Crane’s credibility gap is now longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

Lest you think that this is just a bad dream and gross incompetence, THINK AGAIN! DeFalco’s band of merry investment bankers and consultants can’t think further than their own wallets.

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