It’s still 2017, but National Stationery Show (NSS) is really just around the corner — and they’ve already announced two wonderful initiatives targeted toward both retailers & makers.

First up, Small Business Saturday is just around the corner —November 25, 2017 — and NSS wants to hear from you! Now in its seventh year, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express to garner support for local, small businesses from their communities. In short, it’s all about the indies!

Now the NSS has unveiled Small Business Success Stories as a way for stationery and gift retailers to share and gather ideas on how to drive their retail business — and the industry — forward.

If you have had success generating traffic and sales for your store using POS or social media promotions, in-store events, creative merchandising or with other off-the-wall ideas you have dreamt up, NSS wants to know! They’ll share your tips with other retailers online, in e-mail and on social media for a chance to win one of three $100 American Express Gift Cards. You’ll even get an extra entry in the drawing when you share your tip on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #NSSsupportsmall and #Sweepstakes

Submit your tips & ideas here but hurry, the submission deadline is this Sunday, November 19. Winners will be announced the following day, Monday, November 20!Next up, back by popular demand, the Design Our Valentines Contest has returned for 2018! NSS will be accepting new, original designs for consideration from confirmed 2018 exhibitors — and in turn will showcase the incredible talent inside our industry to thousands of retailers and buyers. A winning design in each category will be featured on printed, mailed Valentine’s Day postcards, digital messages, social media and the NSS website. Two finalist designs in each category will be featured on digital messages, social media and the NSS website. The widespread promotional exposure to influential decision makers is the key reason to enter!

Here are the winners and finalists from last year, though these should in no way determine the direction for this year’s entries. I fully expect this year’s crop to be equally spectacular!

First up is the Traditional Category, for greeting card art, design, graphics and editorial direction that is wholesome, vintage, tender, romantic, serious or conservative. From top to bottom, we have finalists from Quilling Card and JooJoo Paper, and then the big bear hug winner from Good Juju Ink! Next up is the Contemporary Genre, for those designs that are more current, modern, on trend, hip, fun, humorous, bold or sarcastic.  In other words, here’s a chance to let your snark shine! From top to bottom are finalists Ratbone Skinny, Sparkvites and the winner from Valley Cruise Press. Last up is We Love the NSS — a valentine to the show itself. Declare your love for everyone’s favorite paper show with Valentine’s Day-themed greeting card art, design, graphics and editorial direction that incorporates the NSS as part of your original design. Your design may include the NSS logo or can reference “NSS” as part of the design. Here’s last year’s incredibly strong Honorable Mention-garnering design from Inklings Paperie.Submit your design here by December 15, by which point you must also have contracted your booth. The week of December 19, one winner and two finalists in each category will be selected & notified by the NSS show team. Winners will be:  Included in a direct mail promotion to NSS pre-registrants and prospective attendees prior to Valentine’s Day, 2018; featured on www.nationalstationeryshow.com as a winning design; and included in an email promotion to pre-registrants and prospective attendees. Two finalists in each category will be featured on www.nationalstationeryshow.com as a finalist design and included in an email promotion to pre-registrants and prospective attendees. 

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