Latest trends in fine stationery, custom invitations and announcements from the Stationers Guild

In yet another sign of the times, Borders filed for bankruptcy protection and will close some 200 of their 632  stores according to articles published today.  I am sorry that this is taking place, but others may think that this is only fair since the Big Box stores were responsible for putting so many small retailers out of business.   So creatively documented by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan  in You’ve Got Mail,  I suppose it is now somewhat ironic that Borders was itself brought to its knees by the Internet, which fueled Tom and Meg’s email romance.

While most business pundits seem to think that Borders will not survive the restructuring, it is interesting to note that most of its store closures are “super stores” and that Borders Express and the old Walden bookstores will continue to operate.   “Thinking small” seems to be the operative word these days and I suspect that the consumer is beginning to find the comfort and intimacy of smaller stores to be less intimidating than the Big Box experience with floor-to-ceiling products and cheap prices.

There are many parallels between what is taking place in the publishing industry to the greeting cards and  stationery industry.   It seems evident to me that the industry as a whole is simply digging themselves a deeper grave by throwing increasingly more product of cheap designs and low-quality paper into a market that is  already over-saturated and at prices that reflect the “real” value of the merchandise  (i.e. practically nothing).

Furthermore,we are aggressively marketing this compromised product to consumers that have already embraced alternative forms of communication.   This is not a good situation, but very few companies seem to have taken the lead and stated that  “I am not planning to run my brand into the ground and will, instead, create  a quality product that consumers, distributors, craftspeople and designers and my employees can be proud of.”

These are difficult times, but patience and clear vision will reward those who focus on excellence rather than growth or simply running with the herd.

Richard W. May
Founding Member Stationers Guild

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