I’ve been walking every aisle of National Stationery Show since 1998, which seems like a pretty long time … that is, until you consider that 2016 marks its 70th year!

When I first visited as a rather green market editor, it seemed everyone wanted to tell me all about the show’s earlier years. Apparently in the ‘80s one exhibitor had a streaker promoting its booth!

So much has changed since then, and I’m not just referring to public nudity laws! We’ve had the digital revolution, which completely altered the perception of stationery and correspondence in America. There was also a major, business-destroying recession. But, while the digital revolution changed stationery forever, it’s also brought the lively fun & excitement of NSS to life in an entirely new forum.

cat jenipherlynneighbor  So last year, the hashtag #NSS2015 filled Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as exhibitors and buyers shared first their preparation and then their show experiences. This new dimension to NSS made us more excited for it to start, and for those who couldn’t be there, it made them feel almost as if they were. And this year, #NSS2016 and even #NSSClassOf70 will again bring the distinctive energy of NSS to our feeds.

katharinewatson ourheiday bremelo  As much as this is a good thing, it’s essential not to let the digital world eclipse the physical world of NSS. For at its heart, NSS is a face-to-face, in-person event, full of fabulous finds that cannot be found anywhere else! Whether you are seeking product that speaks to the millennials, or want to sell your own offerings to like-minded stockists, there is nowhere like NSS to do business and build valuable relationships.

oh_hello_friend jumpingbirdsletterpers_  Just ask Social Media Maven and Stationery Emporium Owner Audrey Woollen of Venice Beach’s Urbanic Paper Boutique, who for the past 12 years has been hauling her cookies across the country to visit. “Quite honestly, I’d never consider missing one. Although it’s a trek to head across the country, the value of what I take home from it far outweighs the effort & costs involved. Not only do I leave the show having secured orders in place for several months out, but also take new product discoveries and enhanced relationships with new and current design partners. I love the consolidated creative pulse of the market and always leave feeling inspired with a re-ignited purpose of who we are and what we offer at Urbanic.”

To me, the difference between social media posts and the experience of NSS can be likened to the difference between a generic Facebook birthday wish and a carefully chosen and mailed card. In short, there’s no comparison!

firecrackerreynI always say I do four months of work over the four days of NSS, it’s that invaluable to me. The National Stationery Show is about so much more than just seeing new lines and networking. Genuine connections and great ideas arise from seeing people in person —  just as only the act of seeing and touching an actual product gives you an authentic sense of it that you’ll never get from a screen. This makes the hoarse voice and sore feet all worth it!

 So I hope you’ll join me in stepping away from your electronics and physically walking the aisles of National Stationery Show with me this year. There’s really nothing quite like it. Exhibiting or attending is easy; check it out!