While most greeting cards are strictly two-dimensional, Lovepop’s artfully engineered creations quite literally pop up into detailed miniature paper keepsakes.
The tactile temptation of the shapes makes it ideal for retailers to have a display card with a sticker that says “sample,” since shoppers cannot fully appreciate Lovepop’s magic without opening the cards.
Through the American Booksellers Association’s new Lovepop affinity program, member stores will receive these display cards for free with their order. Sample cards are normally half the wholesale price, and one per SKU is included with each order.
“Customers will take it out of the cellophane wrap if they don’t have a sample. They are very interactive,” said Michael Esposito, strategic growth manager at Lovepop.
In addition, ABA members who order more than $500 in merchandise will not be charged for freight.
Lovepop is a Boston-based startup that began business in 2014 and gained national attention the following year when the founders won a $300,000 investment on the TV show Shark Tank.
Founders Wombi Rose and John Wise are best friends who trained in ship design but became enamored with hand-crafted paper cards on a trip to Vietnam. They combined their passions in an art form they call “slicegami” as a nod to the Japanese paper arts of origami and kiragami.
Company artists in Boston use advanced ship design software and laser cutters to design the cards, which are produced in a facility in Vietnam owned and operated by Lovepop.
Esposito said Lovepop strictly partners with independent businesses to sell its products.
“We aren’t in any big box retailers. We don’t allow our retail partners to discount or sell online,” he said. “We work with about 30 independent bookstores currently, and they are among our better customers.”
Esposito credits ABA member bookstore Barrington Books in Rhode Island for suggesting that Lovepop develop an affinity program with ABA.
“Our card aesthetic fits well with a lot of literary themes. We have a lot of whimsical things, from unicorns to sharks to pirates,” Esposito said.
Since many people buy books as gifts, a themed card would be a natural pairing booksellers could suggest. “You could have a pirate ship card with Treasure Island,” he said.
There are about 300 designs currently, with more coming all the time. Popular designs include a birthday cake, a monarch butterfly, and a scene of lovers on a bridge near a weeping willow tree.
Three designs feature The Beatles as part of a licensing partnership that is a template for more to come, Esposito said, hinting at a deal in the works with a literary connection.
“I think a lot of book readers will be excited,” he said.
The cards are sold in 950 retailers across the country, up from 100 a year ago. The goal for next year? Three thousand.
Esposito believes partnering with ABA member bookstores will help Lovepop achieve that number because booksellers are “passionate business owners.”
“People have interesting insights,” he said. “We can learn about our products while at the same time helping our partners succeed. They sell more, and we sell more.”
Bookstores will receive a wholesale discount of 50 percent off the retail price per card, which sell to customers for $10, $13, or $15. Cards are sold wholesale in packs of six to retailers.
Booksellers will receive display materials such as floor spinners, table spinners, slat wall shelf inserts, and cash register displays for free, depending on the size of their order. An order of 72 cards, for example, would come with a table spinner.
ABA members can start carrying Lovepop cards in their stores by filling out the wholesale application form on the company website. Stores must mention ABA membership when contacted by Lovepop’s wholesale team in order to receive the full benefits.
ABA has developed similar affinity partnerships with a number of vendors that offer discounted products, services, and business opportunities for member bookstores, including eco-friendly bag company ChicoBag and e-mail newsletter manager Constant Contact. To learn more about all of ABA’s affinity partnerships, visit BookWeb.org’s Business Services page. Booksellers attending Winter Institute 2018 should keep an eye out for ABA affinity partners at the Consultation Station.