Cottage Industry Greeting Card Business
Q: Anyone have experience in distributing home-made greeting cards? I've thought of collecting addresses of card shops from telephone books, then mailing out a brochure of my cards. I could have a 1-800 number installed in my home to take orders. Is there an easier way to collect card shop addresses? Or should I find a distributor? How do I find a distributor? The Yellow Pages does not have a listing for "Distributors." Does anyone know if this type of venture can be profitable? I would appreciate any feedback.
A: Anything (so some people say) is possible, but trying to sell homemade greeting cards strongly challenges that premise. A friend of mine and his wife tried it a few years ago. They designed some very nice cards, spent thousands of dollars with a printer, and lost their shirts on the deal. They spent time going to cards shops, talking with distributors, and dealing with the tourist stops--in three states in the Northwest. They paid for some expensive display racks and put a lot of days into it. They ran into nothing but "maybe" all along the line. Card shops are full of cards from the mostly big publishers that take up all the shelf space. The distributors wouldn't take them (or returned them in a few weeks if they tried) and the tourist stops seem to have a bad habit of not reordering (I notice this with my book sales, you have to be continually selling to them). They finally dumped a big chunk of the cards on a distributor/route man who deals with the tourist stops, just a few months before he went bankrupt. They finally dumped the remainder of the stock for pennies on the dollar with another small distributor. Dealing with the greeting card market may be like trying to get shelf space in a supermarket--you can't compete against the big names for shelf space. Before going into the business, see if you can get a commitment from a few distributors. I've found out from the book publishing business that trying to be a salesman as well as a publisher proves that you can't fit 16-20 hours of work into a 24 day and remain sane.