Think it’s more meaningful to put pen to paper than to push out emails and texts? About 9,000 attendees and 400 exhibitors at the Feb. 3–6 edition of the National Stationery Show (NSS) would agree.
Now in its 73rd year, NSS, organized by Emerald Expositions, is the place for all things paper — including greeting cards, custom invitations, gift wrap, tableware, and journals. The event attracts buyers from across the retailing spectrum — from independent stationery, card, and gift shops to big-box brick-and-mortar and online stores — as well as special event planners and corporate marketers. Buyers at the February NSS show attended such education seminars as “Future Trends: Connecting the Circle of Color,” “Reps’ Tips for Retail Success,” and “Creative Retailing.”
This summer, the New York–based conference will roll out its second event in 2019. Co-located with NY NOW, a products and innovative design trade show, and returning to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the Aug. 11–14 edition will expand its focus to established and emerging designers and entrepreneurs, who will exhibit their products and network with their peers and other professionals. NSS will be held twice again in 2020.
While it sounds like a fun chance to shop around for the coolest notebooks and most stylish letterhead, NSS is also an opportunity for designers to sharpen their skills. Workshops are a popular, recent addition to the program, covering such topics as watercolor lettering and modern calligraphy. A session called “Exquisite Lettering for Social Stationery” demonstrates NSS’ high-end approach, as does its Best New Products Award competition, which will showcase the latest and greatest in seven categories this August — social and environmental cause-related products among them.
Because boutique stationery and gift-store owners make up a good part of the audience, NSS invites “complementary types of companies” producing gourmet chocolates, personal accessories, candles, and bath and body products to exhibit, said Aaron Hazard, sales director for NSS. Newcomers to the business are also welcome. This summer, the show floor will include more than 100 exhibiting companies that have been in business for up to two years.
“Buyers need new products and ideas to entice the consumer into their store,” Hazard said, “and keep them coming back to see what they have now that no other store has.”
Casey Gale is a Convene associate editor.