Business Overview

A greeting card business sells greeting cards to customers. These greeting cards can be for a number of occasions, including birthdays, holidays, reunions and even funerals. Cards can either be sold directly to customers or to retail dealers. If they’re sold to a retail dealer, the dealer then sells the cards to customers. Some greeting card businesses operate online, selling cards to shoppers and shipping them.

Who is this business right for?

The greeting card business is great for those with a taste for design, poetry, celebratory occasions and creative expression. It’s also a fantastic business choice for those who want to become printing specialists.

Ideally, a greeting card business owner will be good at marketing different cards. From “everyday” cards to special occasion cards, each will need to be trendy, relevant and memorable. For this reason, a greeting card business owner needs to be culturally aware, have a knack for humor and be a decent marketer.

What happens during a typical day at a greeting card business?

Every day, a greeting card business sells various cards. This means it caters either directly to customers or to retail outlets. During the selling period, a greeting card business will stock, restock and sell products.

During its “off” hours, retail-wise, a greeting card business works on finding out what sells. A greeting card business’s line is an ever-expanding thing, and it needs a lot of consistent work. A greeting card business focuses on hiring production artists, visiting trade shows, researching trends and sourcing new art. While these processes aren’t necessarily daily processes, they’re important enough to be considered constantly.

Other daily tasks include financing, marketing, promotion, management, store cleaning, general maintenance and customer assistance.

What is the target market?

Your target market will be expansive. Because greeting cards can be sold to many people, your main target markets will be shopkeepers, hair stylists, insurance agents, dentists, doctors, apartment managers, car salespeople and event operators. You can sell cards for individual occasions—like birthdays—but you’ll sell more if you’re targeting professional groups. Often, these groups buy greeting cards in bulk.

How does a greeting card business make money?

A greeting card business makes money by selling greeting cards. Cards can be sold via a shop, in mall kiosks, online or through partnered retailers. Often, greeting card businesses sell specialized envelopes. Some may sell pens, ink and similar writing accessories.

A lot of greeting card businesses make money by selling cards in bulk to different retail centers. Some, however, decide to provide high-quality artwork cards. These cards, due to either being hand-painted or written, are normally sold in fewer numbers.

What is the growth potential for a greeting card business?

A greeting card business has a lot of growth potential. It can operate as a kiosk, as a small shop, as part of a larger shop or as a national distributor.

If a greeting card business is incredibly profitable, like Hallmark, it may extend its product line to cover other novelty items. In these cases, having an online selling outlet is advised. While incremental product costs are low—paper, ink, art sourcing—shipping costs are also low. For this reason, greeting cards mesh well with the ecommerce world.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful greeting card business?

Advertisement skills help a lot. Join Progressive Greetings Worldwide—which is today’s leading greeting card trade magazine. Also, go to trade shows. Connect with specialist greeting companies, and become incredibly knowledgeable about barcodes, identifying goods and handling products across distributors.

Market research is similarly important. A successful greeting card business operator will immerse themselves in the industry, find good suppliers and market their products effectively.

What are the costs involved in opening a greeting card business?

Startup costs are low, sitting at between $2,000 and $10,000. A greeting card business can be operated part-time, and it can also be operated online.

Startup costs include business insurance, product sourcing, talent sourcing, initial rent costs and advertisement. You’ll need a computer, a scanner, a high-quality color printer and desktop publishing software. You may also need database software to maintain mailing lists. You’ll also need a resale license to buy cards at wholesale prices.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a greeting card business?

Connect with distributors as soon as possible. Even if you’re creating your own cards, you should have a healthy supply network. Then, focus on advertisement. Keep overhead costs low, and use online seller portals to save on initial costs.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a greeting card business

Promote yourself through different retail outlets. The country has over 1,800 small greeting card companies, and most market through different retail chains. Keep an eye on local events, and offer custom services to businesses which need large-scale projects.

How to keep customers coming back

You’ll attract customers by offering unique, funny or memorable cards. You’ll retain them, however, by having a solid network of buyers. Again, connect with businesses. Use good time-management skills, organizational skills and marketing skills to profit on retail design businesses. Take advantage of Mother’s Day, Halloween, Christmas and similar holidays.

How and when to build a team

It’s possible to run a greeting card business alone. You can, however, hire two or three additional hands immediately to boost your output. Your team, as a greeting card business operator, will be more nebulous than most professional teams. Focus on building a loose network of artists, designers and print specialists.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a greeting card business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

Greeting cards can be sold at about $2.50 each. You can sell a pack of six cards for about $7.50, so as to be cost effective and offer competitive bulk prices.

What are the ongoing expenses for a greeting card business?

Ongoing prices include raw paper materials, which amount to roughly $0.25 per card. You will, however, need to source artist prints. Depending on a card’s artistic complexity, a print commission can cost between $5 and $200. Designs, diversified as they are, widely vary in price.

How much profit can a greeting card business make?

A small greeting card business can make about $45,000 per year. Larger companies, like Hallmark, make as much as $19.7 billion on Valentine’s Day alone.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Your designs matter. Make sure your card designs are of high quality. Also, make sure you’re well-connected with specialist printing companies. These companies should offer more than simple printing services. Ideally, they should be a one-stop-shop for card finishing materials—like glitter and foiling. They should also offer cello wrap and envelopes.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Tool.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

Sign up at the Business Center to access useful tools for your business.