2020 has been challenging for all of us, and here at Calypso we would like to help in any way we can. The situation differs from one part of the country to another, and from one week to the next, with some retailers open with few restrictions, others back to curbside pick up only, and others temporarily closed.

We are impressed with the creative ways you are supporting your customers, your vendors and yourselves – because we are all in this together – and we thought it might be helpful to share what some other retailers are doing. We will keep this blog updated as we hear of more ideas. Please feel free to send any you hear of, or any that you think of yourselves to [email protected] and we will add them. We are also happy to name the store if you would like us to.

We are learning that greeting card sales in general have picked up significantly during the shut-down, with one national retailer reporting online sales growth of 1200% in cards, and the media reporting, very sadly, that sympathy card sections are empty across the country.

Here are some of the creative ideas we have seen

  • Start a monthly subscription box, to include an assortment of cards, maybe stickers too. You could use a theme and include cards for multiple occasions, or you might let your customers customize their own occasion assortment. One store we have heard of orders new cards for each month, but also uses the surprise box as a way to sell the ones and twos leftover that we all wonder what to do with! This store is so successful they are actually mailing their box all over the country. They use social media to promote. We actually heard recently about a couple of different stores that are doing this and we love the idea!
  • When you show your product on social make a little video. It’s so easy with a cellphone and a tripod, just takes a little courage the first time but hey! even I am doing it! It will attract more attention than a simple photo.
  • Showcase as much as you possibly can in your window, in your doorway, or outside your store if the regulations allow. People feel safer outside, and that way they can browse and only come inside when they have made their selection. Is your card rack on wheels? Can you move it upfront?
  • Bundle greeting cards and show the bundle in your store window or on your website, or social media. Number or name each bundle – the bundle could include say 2 Birthday, 2 Thank You, 2 Thinking of You cards, or offer a “Thinking of You” bundle or a “Humor bundle” of 6 assorted cards. We all need a good laugh!
  • If you are offering free shipping above a certain dollar value, adding a card can be an easy way for your customers to reach that minimum.
  • Post images of cards and gifts on social media. We are mainly seeing Facebook and Instagram. Facetime and Instagram Live allow you to interact directly with your customers through live video streaming.
    The Thistle, Cody WY is sharing live videos on Facebook and having a ton of fun! Recently they had a jewelry event where every time someone bought a piece her son had to remove an article of clothing – and ended up in his underwear! They sold over $1,000 and the post has had over 1.5K views! Have a look for inspiration! Another fun post was called Goat Yoga and other Jackassery on April 1st. Shout out to Sarah at the Thistle for these really creative and effective ideas!
  • Add greeting cards to your website offering – they are an easy add-on sale, will not significantly increase the cost of mailing or shipping, and can provide a service to the community in these times of social distancing.
  • Offer free local drop off, or curbside pick-up. Some stores are offering free shipping.
  • Hold a “Virtual Shopping Tour” one evening. Stream it on Instagram Live. Make it a Happy Hour!
  • Offer “Care Packages” or gift baskets with a variety of products and cards. It could be an assortment of hand cream (and don’t we all need that right now!), chocolates and a tea towel, or soap, a plush toy and a candle – whatever you have in stock. Remember the cards! A good example would be a thank you for a health care worker. You might consider offering 3 tiers of mystery gift boxes, priced at $35, $55 and $80.
  • Show Vignettes in your store window and number them, so customers who see them in the window can call and place an order for “Vignette number 1”. Each Vignette would be a group of items.
  • We heard of one store offering a “Cheer Box”, including several small gift items such as a pouch, a pen and a puzzle, that fit in a USPS flat rate box to keep shipping costs down.
  • Make your posts personal – post a photo of your employee (a selfie of you?) driving to the Post Office with the packages you are mailing out. People love the personal contact. Or post a video of you just to check in with your customers. Introduce yourself and your staff to your customers.
  • Bookstores could post a photo of each staff member and ask them to post about their book recommendations.
  • Make sure your bio includes your contact info.
  • Sell gift cards that can be mailed or that you can keep on hold in the store.
  • If you have a website promote it on social media. That is where everyone is these days! All day!
  • Promote ahead! If you are planning an event for Saturday at 3 pm, start posting about it earlier in the week.
  • Create your own YouTube channel to show videos of your product.
  • Do you have an email list? We heard of a store that included curated selections of greeting cards in an email to customers. You could group by theme – alcohol is a winner these days!, or include a couple of birthday, sympathy, thank you, friendship, and offer the bundle at a discount. We can help you with the selection from your stock and artwork for the email. Just ask!

Please tell us about your success so we can share! One customer is having enough success that if she continues to sell at the current rate she will cover her rent for 2 stores.

For those of you that have our cards in stock already, we can send you images and inside greetings to put on your website. Request the images you need at [email protected], or we can look up your recent orders and send those images. We are also open and able to ship orders.

In this age when it is so easy to order everything we need from that online-store-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned-here, it is more important than ever to showcase to your local community what you have in store. People are still hesitant to venture out into stores, so make it easy for them. How many times in the last few weeks have I found myself wondering where I could buy a cute headband from a store I know personally. And, as a note to my local stores, I still don’t have one!

If you are not already using Social Media, here are some resources for setting up a Facebook business page and setting up an Instagram account. We have also created a Youtube playlist with helpful tips for how to use Facebook and Instagram to connect with your customers. The Facebook Business Resource Hub is another good resource offering free online courses and suggestions for both Facebook and Instagram.

Retailers to follow on Instagram/Facebook to see what they are doing: (we will add to this list as we get permission)
Jenni from Beach House Greetings @beachhousegreetings wrote to tell us how she opened up an online store on April 2nd of this year out of necessity to save her business. She has a post office in her shop, so could not close her doors. She did cut hours to 3 and then later 5 hours a day. Her sales dropped off the cliff the week of March 15th (as her governor issued a stay at home order). She was able to easily build an online store with her Square point of sale system. Her customers' response was incredible. She does sell a lot of cards online.
Jenni’s key recommendations:
*have clear categories
*in each category, have a varied selection
*in each category, try to sort the images for ease of use
*use good images
Catching Fireflies , Ann Arbor, Rochester, Berkley, MI @catchingfirefliescom We’ve had a website that is synced with all our brick & mortar store inventory for a number of years and it is totally saving us during these trying times. In addition to shipping, we’re offering curbside pick-up M-F 12-3 and free local front porch drop off to surrounding cities. This in addition to social media posts & weekly enews featuring relevant products. Our mission statement is ‘making days brighter’ and everyone needs that right now.
Chocolate Paper, Roanoke, VA@chocolatepaperroanokeva 
Copperfields, Calistoga, CA @copperfieldscalistoga 
Mongrel Richmond, VA @mongrelrva
Paper Jazz, Bend Oregon @paperjazzbend
Rock Paper Scissors, Ann Arbor MI. @rockpapermi
Sticks and Steel , Sioux Falls, SD @sticksandsteel It isn't too late! Click here to watch Terri and M share the ease and beauty of magnetic frames and tour the fun selection of state pride, local pride, collegiate, and high school product offerings.
SW7 Kensington, MD @sw7kensington
Sweet Ruckus Boulder, CO @sweetruckusgifts have created their own YouTube channel where they show videos of their product https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sweet+ruckus
The Thistle, Cody WY @thistle_cody is sharing live videos on Facebook and having a ton of fun! Recently they had a jewelry event where every time someone bought a piece her son had to remove an article of clothing – and ended up in his underwear! They sold over $1,000 and the post has had over 1.5K views! Have a look for inspiration! Another fun post was called Goat Yoga and other Jackassery on April 1st. Shout out to Sarah at the Thistle for these really creative and effective ideas!
Town Duck, Warrenton VA @townduck