Whether it be a birth or birthday, a holiday, or the passing of a friend or loved one, life passages are best celebrated by a note or card in the mail. While an email or response on social media may suffice, there is no better way to communicate than a hand-written note or card.
A recent survey by Morning Consult indicates that the U.S. Postal Service is, overall, the most trusted brand in America, ranked highest by Gen X and boomers. So when you send a card in the mail, it is in good hands.
On the east coast, the sky is grey and the trees reveal their leafless stark beauty these winter days. There is a chill in the air, including some nights in the low 20s. Nevertheless, buds are already starting to appear on the trees, indicating the future arrival of spring. And despite the cool weather, USPS mail carriers have been busy at work, delivering the mail.
However, finding just the right card for the right occasion has become incrementally more difficult. For many years, one of my go-to card shops was Papyrus, which last month announced plans to close all of its 254 stores. The company, which was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1950, carried unique and beautiful European-style design cards, often branded with the name of the founders, Marcel and Magrit Schurman.
I first discovered Papyrus on Sacramento Street in San Francisco in the late 1970s, nestled among an array of antique stores and a nearby neighborhood movie theater. At the time, sending a letter or card in the mail happened frequently.
In recent years, Papyrus cards became more ornate and quite costly. But even at the higher prices, the company grappled with higher production costs, over-expansion, and the general downturn in first class mail. The Papyrus brand is owned by American Greetings, which is second only to Hallmark in production of greeting cards.
Despite the closure of the stand-alone stores, Papyrus cards will remain available through as many as 300 retailers, including independent card shops, Whole Foods, Target, Macy’s, Safeway, and others.
The closure of a major chain of card shops is reflective of an overall trend in retail. Who has not walked along a major street in any U.S. town or city and encountered scores of empty storefronts? More and more, convenience and online shopping has replaced the person-to-person contact within the community. While staying connected may work well on social media, nothing is more special than a card in the mail. We should celebrate the U.S. Postal Service!
In the same Morning Consult study that found the USPS to be the country’s number one most trusted brand, the top 15 brands also include Amazon (number two), Google (number three), UPS, and FedEx. Breaking out the brands by generation, the study found that both Gen Z and millennials trusted Google the most. “The marketing research company’s study was based on an average of 16,700 interviews per brand for almost 2,000 brands.”
This does not necessarily speak well to the future of the U.S. Postal Service, which has been fairly nimble in adapting to change. And the service is not, however, without its critics. There are some who would rather privatize this valued and respected service. To keep the USPS public, we must continue to celebrate the US mail service and to use it frequently. Sending a card in the mail once or twice a week not only will help the postal service, but possibly ensure one’s own receipt of snail mail.
Bookstores and independent card shops remain an excellent way to go when selecting cards and note paper. Hallmark remains alive and well, and does a brisk online business. A quick Google search (yes, I use it too!) found a standalone Hallmark store near me, and dozens within the San Francisco Bay Area. I also can count on my local Whole Foods and Safeway stores to carry Papyrus cards, although the selection will be limited.
Etsy, an online resource for vintage and handcrafted goods is another good source of unique, crafted, and letterpress cards. A variety of vendors on Etsy also sell unused vintage stamps, perfect for those who wish to make a personal statement when sending a card in the mail. Personalized greeting cards also can be ordered through a variety of online retailers. Paper Source sells cards, both online and in standalone stores.
Each of us has our own unique taste in notepaper and cards. I am a fan of simplicity, especially in letterpress cards. Many of my favorite designs feature a creature or flower, such as a bee, butterfly, ladybug, dragonfly, hydrangea, etc. Therefore, one of my favorite sources of cards is Crane. I will miss seeing some of the newest Crane offerings at Papyrus, but they have an excellent, easy-to-use website.
Once you find the right card or set of notecards to reflect your personal taste, you will want to select the perfect stamp. And, as we celebrate the U.S. mail, perhaps you will want to adorn your next letter with the new Let’s Celebrate Forever stamp. It may be just the perfect stamp for sending a card in the mail.
Death Through a Thousand Emojis; All 254 Papyrus Stores Closing by Rachel Siegel. The Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2020
Greeting Card Retailer Papyrus Files for Bankruptcy by Jonathan Randles. Wall Street Journal, Jan. 23, 2020.
Most Trusted Brands 2020. Morning Consult.
Papyrus Closing All Stores by Chris Morris. Fortune, Jan. 21, 2020
Papyrus Closing All Stores After Parent Company Files for Bankruptcy by Noah Manskar. New York Post, Jan. 24, 2020
Papyrus Closing All Stores in Coming Weeks by Alexa Mae Asperin. KRON4, Jan. 23, 2020
Papyrus Closing All Stores in the next four to six weeks, files for bankruptcy protection by Kelly Tyko and Nathan Bomey. USA Today, Jan. 23, 2020
USPS Ranked Most Trusted Brand in the US by Sarah Steimer. American Marketing Association, Jan. 15, 2020