Wrap Not Included

I went on a mini adventure today. Out into the great big city centre of Cardiff. Ok maybe big is a bit of an overstatement but I sounded more adventure-y. Anyway, what was I doing on this adventure I hear you ask, well, I was scoping out stationery shops. Going undercover to find all the juicy secrets on how items are packaged and displayed instore.

I hit the Card Factor, a lower budget stationery shop. I chose these guys because I’m designing for Giftmaker Collection, which is a high street brand as opposed to a luxury brand. I’d except most of the cards to be boxed or safely ensconced in cellophane bags, but a lot were out on display, with no covering, which I suppose is reflected in the price of the cards. Card Factor has a section at the back for gift wrap and bags, with the standard ladder-style sheet wrap display, with little holders for matching gift tags, and all their gift bags hung above. What I liked was that they obviously thought about how they wanted to display their wrapping paper; it was separated into sections, one part was for girls, another was a more unisex display, then one more aimed at children and boys, followed by male and female birthdays. Each sheet wrap was placed next to a complimentary one with co-ordinating design, or everyday designs slipped in-between. While I thought the wrap display was really good, I wasn’t that keen on how the gift bags had just be put on hooks above all the wrap, I think the display could have been bit encompassing of their other co-ordinating pieces. I feel like gift bags, even budget gift bags, have more of a luxury feel about them than wrapping paper, and should be more in view (they might well have been, but I’m only short and I had to tip back to see them), I think that they’ve missed a good opportunity to display their more luxury items, because even if your shopping in a budget shop, you don’t want the items to feel budget.

Next was the obligatory stop in Paperchase, where every single one of their greetings cards was packaged away safely behind cellophane and displayed in rows along the walls. The quality packaging of their cards shows in the price. As for their wrapping paper, the same ladder-style display has been used, but instead of being flat again the wall, the wooden ladder (for want of what they’re actually called) are arranged triangularly out from the wall, meaning you have to actually manoeuvre past them, which also means your helpless but to pay attention. I see what you’ve don’t there Paperchase, very sneaky! The sheet wrap displays go up several feet, much higher than my humble 5 3”, and on the walls around, their gift bags, tags and ribbons are displayed in all their glory. Co-ordinating bag sets have been hung together near the table where all the co-ordinating gift boxes are displayed. In that one section, there is a veritable 360 display of gift wrapping, what’s not to love?

I also traveled to Waterstones where they have a little stationery display. Again all the cards are packed away in cellophane bags, the wrapping paper is displayed on free-standing ladder-style display, while wrap packs are displayed on wire card holders. Waterstones is closer to Paperchase in thier card prices, which is again shown in they’re packaging.

I feel that that no matter which market the stationery shop targets it products at, the display in each is remarkably similar. Cards are displayed along walls or in racks, rolls of paper are kept in boxes, and sheet wrap is kept on ladder-style displays. While some shops like Paperchase come up with displays that are intentionally in the way so they gather more attention, ultimately, they are the same. But I feel like this is what is now expected of stationery shops, that the displays need to be conservative so that each item is displayed the same as the next, making it up to the customer to choose, instead of a ‘hey! Pick me!’ display. What I would love to see is shop displays to become more like trade show displays. While in trade shows the cards are still in rows, I saw some on shelves propped open, other again where attached to wire wall displays with bulldog clips. I saw wrapping paper tacked to wall haphazardly and samples of washi tapes and ribbons rolled out for effect, display of products that make you want to come closer, even if it is just to see what the wrapping paper was stuck on the wall with.

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