The Greeting Card Company for Sarcastic People
Today we thought we’d share another of our many delusions. Momus and I met more than 15 years ago when we were both working for the same research consulting firm. One day we were having lunch and talking about how unfulfilled we were by the work that we were doing. We also talked about how our younger selves both had gravitated more toward the literary side of life. Momus wrote poetry and had been published in a couple of journals. I had actually loved the writing that completing a masters thesis and dissertation had required. My greatest achievement was when my dissertation committee told me that my dissertation was the most readable one that they had read in years.
We also shared a twist toward the sarcastic and a hatred of greeting cards. We talked about how greeting cards are practically required for certain occasions, but we could never find cards that said the things we wanted to say. By the time we left that lunch, we decided that the world needed better greeting cards for sarcastic people. And, we believed, we were just the people to make them. Thus was born: the Spiral of Doom.
Once the plan was hatched, the greeting card ideas just flowed. By the end of that month, we had hundreds of ideas for (we thought) fabulously funny greeting cards. We ran them by our friends and family, who either loved or hated them, not much middle ground. We chose to listen to those who loved them. Just one problem: neither one of us can draw worth a damn. And at that point, neither one of us had any experience with any graphical program more sophisticated than PowerPoint. And we didn’t have the money to pay a graphics designer. So, the graphics on our cards were a little, shall we say, primitive.
Every card featured a spiral, per our Spiral of Doom trademark. Very inspired indeed.
Undaunted by our humble graphics, we giggled our way to the printers and had 4,000 cards printed up (1,000 each of four different cards), and bought 4,000 envelopes to go with them. Remember, there was no Zazzle, etsy, or even Vista Print back in those days, so virtual creation with just in time printing was not an option. As it would turn out,(spoiler alert) all of our 4,000 cards were destined for the dumpster. Along with the 4,000 envelopes. (What were we thinking?!)
Once our cards were in hand, we boldly ventured into Boston to sell our cards at every card shop, or shop that might carry cards, we could find. We hate selling even more than we hate data analysis. But we spent a couple of long days going from store to store, asking for the manager, and presenting them with our lovely cards. We sold nothing. Either people didn’t think our cards were funny, or stores just don’t buy cards from people wandering in off the street. We choose to believe the latter.
Our next step was to attend the College Bookstore Trade Show in lovely Saratoga New York. The show’s main advantages being that it was both closer and cheaper than the big greeting card trade show in New York City. And, we didn’t have to carry liability insurance. That was key. Probably tells you all you need to know about how ready we were for the big-time.
The trade show was much fun, and people were definitely interested in our display. We would see clusters of attendees standing about 10 feet back watching our cards flash by on an overhead projector and giggling. We thought this was a good sign until we heard “sick” and “insane” and most concerning “Who would buy these?” float in our direction. It was also troubling that no one actually wanted to get near our booth. Once again, no sales.
Next we tried to find distributors or sales reps. No dice. Most would not even reply to our inquiries. Probably too busy laughing at our cards.
After a few more increasingly lackluster attempts at promotion in the following year, we finally gave up the ghost. We told ourselves that the greeting card biz is just a hard one to break into and that we were simply ahead of our time.
My poor aged cat, however, got the final word. Several years later I went down to the storage area of the basement and discovered that the cat had peed and crapped on every single card in the boxes. Apparently, he didn’t think we were funny either.
All card images Copyright The Next Delusion (because hope never dies).