Apr 27, 2011
Party Stores, Party Cards
Kathy Krassner, Director of Communications, Greeting Card Association

Add cards to add sales

Customers already come into your store for party accessories for birthdays, showers, graduations and other special events. By adding greeting cards that cover these same occasions, you can make your store more of a one-stop-shopping destination and even more profitable.

“Party stores should feel encouraged to add greeting cards to their product mix,” said Mary Pat Heelan, Legacy Publishing Group’s marketing director. “When purchasing items for a party, it’s nice and easy to be able to buy everything in one place.”

Notes Ron Kanfi, president of NobleWorks, Inc.: “Many party-store customers are on their way to a party, buying wrapping paper or other party goods to bring to the party. What a perfect opportunity to add a card for the occasion.”

Cards + Partyware = Profits
“There is such a natural synergy between the party supply and greeting card industries,” said Susan January, vice president of Leanin’ Tree, Inc. “Party retailers make it easy for consumers to plan for, host and celebrate events around many of the same occasions and milestones that the greeting card industry celebrates.

“For today’s often rushed consumer, anytime that they can shop for numerous items at one location it’s a bonus – and often greeting cards and party supplies reciprocate through the power of suggestion,” January continued. “The placement of party supplies near the greeting card section of any store helps remind the consumer of upcoming holidays, upcoming party or celebratory opportunities and the need to purchase items for both a party and for sending.”

“A fun greeting card selection can generate an upbeat attitude conducive to the party shopping mood,” said Lisa Engler, director of customer relations at Avanti Press, Inc. “They inject whimsy and emotion into the shopping experience, helping customers come away with a good feeling … and always a few extra purchases!”

Birthdays and More
The most obvious greeting card choice for party stores is birthday cards, since the birthday category is probably the most popular nonseasonal occasion for most party retailers.

Suzanne Haines, vice president of marketing for Designer Greetings, shared that their funny cards sell well in most stores. Humorous cards are also the specialty of NobleWorks, which offers a plethora of birthday greetings that poke fun at aging, including some slightly naughty ones. “Generally, the more daring the cards, the better they sell,” Kanfi said.

Milestone birthdays are another category for which cards can complement existing partyware.

“Age birthday does very well for Designer Greetings in party stores, since they do a big business in related product – especially for milestone birthdays like Sweet 16, 21, 40, 50, etc.,” Haines said.

January of Leanin’ Tree agreed that milestone birthday cards that celebrate important decade birthdays from 30, 40 and 50, all the way up to 100, are very popular.

“Consumers tend to buy and send milestone birthday cards for friends and acquaintances, even if they wouldn’t normally send a card for their birthday in any other year,” January said. “The decade milestone birthday has become more and more popular, especially with the popularity of sentiments like ’40 is the new 30.'”

Younger kids’ birthdays are also a draw for party stores, and therefore present an opportunity for selling juvenile-themed cards. One resource is Peaceable Kingdom Press, which carries numerous cards for kids – including some with special enhancements.

“Our specialty cards, like tattoo birthday cards or scratch and sniff birthday cards, do well in party stores,” said Donna Jaffe, the company’s president. “Gift enclosures also work great as cards under $1.”

Beyond birthdays, other special occasions such as engagements or engagement parties, wedding showers and baby showers “are great party opportunities with ample greeting card designs available to add to the mix,” said January. “Graduation is another excellent example of an opportunity to provide party supplies and greeting cards in support of high school and college graduations.”

Keep Cards Visible
Because greeting cards are often an impulse purchase at party shops, Kanfi suggests displaying them near the checkout area. “I would keep cards close to the counter or somewhere the customer is more likely to be reminded they need one,” he said.

“Display location is key,” agreed Engler. “Greeting cards should always be at the front of the store near the cash wrap or checkout. They provide add-on sales that may or may not be connected to the specific event the shopper has in mind when they enter the store.”

“Use a good card display and place it near the register,” Jaffe advised. “Keep the display filled and tidy, and be sure to ask every customer who makes a purchase if they need a card with their purchase.”
Peaceable Kingdom offers its card-program accounts free buttons that say, “Would you like a CARD with that?” and Jaffee said it’s a great reminder and really encourages sales.

January advises placing greeting cards near corresponding party decorations for birthdays, showers, weddings and anniversary parties to help create a mindset that buying a card is a part of the purchase when buying party supplies.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is that the cards are visible,” said Legacy’s Heelan. “Customers should be able to easily see where they can find a greeting card.” The company offers an attractive greeting card spinner, which Heelan describes as the “perfect ‘real estate’ to sell greeting cards.”

If more “real estate” is available in the store, Haines of Designer Greetings urges party retailers to display a larger selection of cards.

“Some party stores believe that a small offering is all that is needed,” she said. “History and testimonials from our party-store accounts that have large departments, however, tell us that breadth of designs and titles are the way to build the business. Age birthday, humorous birthday and general birthday do very well and need larger departments.”

The bottom line is that the party goods and greeting cards are ideal, and profitable, complements to one another.

“The beauty of being in the greeting card business, or the party supply business, is that we are all lucky enough to be working in the happiness business,” January said. “Both industries are essentially about relationships and connection, and anytime there is an opportunity for industries that promote personal relationships and communication between friends and family to work together, it’s a win-win.”

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