The world has become a very different place in the last month since the previous edition of Progressive Greetings hit the mat and indeed so much has happened since even the new April issue went to press.
In this time of self-isolation and social distancing, Progressive Greetings’ April edition, which is out now, provides a valuable link to all those in the greeting card community.
“You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but how you survive.” This dramatic quote by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook set the tone for indie retailer David Robertson’s column. While written just before the retail lockdown, David as ever, writes openly and honestly about the ever evolving situation which is crucifying businesses in our sector.
“The quote that I started with column was always going to be the starting point for this piece, but it was never planned to take on the meaning it now does.
Survival sounds a bit dramatic, but in reality that is what we need to do. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything as challenging as this in my professional career,” writes David.
“No one knows exactly what is going to happen or, more importantly, how long things are going to be affected. Can we trade through this? Will banks and landlords be understanding? Will the promised help from Government really be there? With each announcement more confusion comes…Johnny Nash sang there were more questions than answers, and perhaps never has this been more true.”
In recognition of International Women’s Day last month, his column also champions the need for us all to help create a gender equal world. He shines the spotlight on the huge number of the key people in our industry who are women, highlighting just a few that have made an impact on his business. “Beth (Five Dollar), Wendy (Jones-Blackett), Laura (Darrington), Rachel (Belly Button), Megan (Megan Claire), Rachel (Ellen), Louise (Tiler), Bex (Bexy Boo), Georgie (White Cotton)… and many more. I respect them, not because they are women, but because they have produced great product consistently for many years and are skilled, professional people to work with.” (click to pages 26-27)
Showing her strength of character, Jackie Collins, managing director and owner of Cherry Orchard Publishing should have been going all out to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary this month, but given the circumstances, she took a different tack and instead commissioned a poem by respected author Patricia Rose to give hope to all in the trade.
“April 1st 2020 is exactly 25 years to the day that Cherry Orchard Publishing began its journey. We have seen so many changes over the years, had the support of so many great retailers, worked with a host of talented artists and writers, been well blessed by having a wonderful team of people at Cherry Orchard and feel so proud to have developed so many fabulous ranges,” reflected Jackie.
When writing the poem, Patricia said her intention was “to convey the love and connection that Jackie has with the industry; her concerns for her retail customers and friends in the trade.”
Hope is also a theme of Cardsharp’s column in this issue. At a time when the crisis seem insurmountable PG’s popular columnist adds an historical perspective reminding us of how the industry has faced many serious challenges over the years and has always come through. From the protests and destruction of the first ever Christmas card by the puritans back in 1843 through to how greeting cards were banned for a time during the Second World War as part of the war effort to save paper (thankfully reinstated after it was agreed by the Govt that they were essential to the nation’s morale) then there was barcode-gate, Banana Wars and a swamping of millions of cheap cards from the Soviet Union. (click to page 28-29)
As Cardsharp reflects, while in the current lockdown it may seem like the end of our world, but if the past is anything to go to, we will bounce back. As he points out: “A habit and tradition engrained over so long in the British public, will not disappear over a couple of months. Greeting cards engender within us all a huge feel good factor and brings out all that is good in human nature.”
To keep the gender balance in PG, with David Robertson’s aforementioned column having a female bias, the testosterone level is high in the second half of the magazine with a section that is dedicated to male cards. As part of this PG ‘spoke’ to a peloton of card publishers about how they have stepped up a ‘gear’ on creating designs which tap into the growing popularity of cycling.
Sharing his views, Ross Harrison, business development manager for Laura Darrington says: “As we live quite rurally, we see a steady stream of cyclists coming through the village quite regularly. And, while I applaud anyone who’s hobby keeps you fit and healthy, a cyclist’s desire to pull on the Lycra and helmet is up there with their fondness for cake. No bike ride is complete without a cake-stop it seems. And for that reason alone, cycling is now my favourite sport!” (click to 38-39)
The news section is packed full of great initiatives by retailers, publishers and suppliers (click to page 10-11); the Innovations section is abundant with stunning ranges to pep up the card racks in readiness for the end to the lockdown (click to page 30-31) and retailers share what ranges were going down well with their customer last month in What’s Hot (click to page 38).
All this in the pages of a lovely glossy magazine. Wouldn’t you like to hold a copy in your hands so you can flick through it and read it wherever takes your fancy. It really is better in the flesh!
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