Custom vs Store/online bought Postcards

Hello everyone,

As i’m sure everyone has noticed, finding postcards to purchase is becoming more and more difficult due to the communication advancements society has had.

I recently came across Vistaprint which i see a lot of people here know about. Here you can order your own custom postcards. However I came across a dilemma:

  1. It is addicting

And 2) I am realizing that if I design my own and have them printed, the more I do that, the less I support shops that do sell them.

For those that do order custom cards, how do you balance the notion of supporting vendors that still carry postcards vs that cool feeling of sending off some that you made?

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I do some of each. But I buy more cards than I make since I keep coming across great cards that I want to have around (and eventually send to others :blush:)

You have no moral commitment to buy any particular amount of cards, so if you still buy some, you are still helping vendors and other artists besides yourself. There are more Postcrossers every month, so others are coming in to support them as well.

Postcrossing is about giving to others, but there is no commandment that you have to give any particular amount. Meanwhile it is also a good thing to give opportunities and support to yourself, including permission to let your creativity flourish. Enjoy!

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I buy from individual artists sometimes & I have bought directly from a mass postcard manufacturer a few times, but I really have to think about my costs in order to participate the way I want to, so I’m happy getting cards printed - I use Zazzle who’s prices have gone up in the last 6 months sadly.

I gave up on local shop vendors in my first 6 months of Postcrossing - they were just way too expensive - like $2.50 a card or more vs 85 cents to $1.

And yes, it is addicting to design or find images to get printed, so set yourself a budget eh? Enjoy!

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Yes exactly my point! I would love to support the local shop vendors so that they have good reason to continue to sell their cards but it is so difficult when you could just have 50 of them printed the exact way you want at .40 or .50 cents each.

Since I discovered the notion of printing your own cards I might even consider printing my own cards before I go on a trip instead of going through the task of finding the one shop that still sells them (like when I went to Oaxaca). Then you run into the idea that well, the reason there aren’t that many shops selling them is because people aren’t requesting them or buying them. So it is a hard thing to balance…

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It’s great that you support local vendors that sell postcards. At this point my mailing list when I am on vacation is about 55+. So when I do find the small shop that sells postcards, they are amazed that I want so many. In fact, some don’t even have 55 so I’ll just say I’ll take them all.

I’ll never forget in Mazatlan, Mexico about 2 months ago I was searching for postcards and every vendor or small shop would tell me they didn’t sell them. I finally found the one shop that did sell some and I told the girl “I’ll take all of these” and her eyes lit up. She went and got her supervisor so she could see how many postcards she had sold :slight_smile:

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I have both designed and printed postcards myself, and purchased postcards from postcard stores. I usually pay attention to the works of independent artists and designers, and if these works are beyond my ability to create, I will purchase them. If I were myself, I would design and create postcards in creative fields that other artists would not be familiar with, such as regional landscapes, cuisine, and some interesting picture books.
I remember when I went to a tourist attraction in our city, I bought almost 100 postcards of all kinds at a souvenir shop. According to the salesperson, I am the person who has bought the most postcards in the past three years! In fact, the postcards sold in this souvenir store are all very beautiful and original designs by artists in our city. I think purchasing these postcards is not only to support the artists’ creativity, but also to promote the unique culture of our city.
If we do not support the sale of these postcards, it is very likely that these stores will not sell postcards because they cannot make a profit from selling postcards.
I would like to recommend the website taobao.com to you. There are many excellent Chinese artists here, such as Meimei, as well as excellent studios such as Marmara and March Studio. Perhaps you can find what you want here!

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That is so awesome that you bought nearly 100 postcards in Wenzhou! I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit Wenzhou but I am sure the region is awesome. I guess even if I do order prints I have myself, in some way shape or form I am still supporting postcards and the USPS (when I mail it). Now if only mailing would be more affordable!

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I know postage keep getting more expensive but I like to think of it as an amazingly inexpensive way to make and maintain connections near and far. I cannot personally deliver little notes and presents to my granddaughters who live hundreds of miles away for the few dollars it costs to mail them. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford to meet and continue to connect with my Postcrossing buddies across the US and in the UK, France, Sri Lanka and other places for the much lower cost of postage. Mail is an extremely affordable way to “travel”!

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You make en excellent point about mailing being cheaper than traveling. You have a very positive way of looking at it.

I suppose I think similarly in this manner:

I suck at buying gifts. I think of gifts as a materialistic thing when i give them so whenever I would travel friends would tell me to bring them something. Well, an inexpensive gift to give are mailing postcards from where you are traveling!

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I will just share some observations about acquiring postcards. Please just understand that these are my viewpoints and NOT to generate a debate.

The days of buying postcards at the retail level here in the US (and here I am talking about typical viewcards) are pretty much over. Thus mirrors what has happened to the retail postage stamp dealer. That being so, the challenge then becomes where to source good quality postcards? The short answer is - Online, for most people. Interestingly, PostCrossing has a section listing a number of online shops that offer postcards for sale. Many of these shops are run by other members (including {{{{cough cough}}} mine); but you also have some high profile vendors of postcards. Do members use these sites/shops? I imagine some do, but I suspect many don’t.

So regarding availability, there is a lot of material out there. It just takes some initiative and asking questions. I will you you a little story. Over the years, I’ve recommended & referred many PostCrossing members to a postcard wholesaler I’ve purchased from for many years. I recently referred a Facebook member to him. Not only did the individual I referred make a purchase, but he asked the wholesaler to put together a group of postcards to send to me. I got that box yesterday. What a wonderful gesture! For those members who are upset about prices, this wholesaler offers postcards, your choice of subjects, for $0.25 each. Some subjects like Stadiums may be higher, but still this would fit the budget of most US members.

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You are right cliffside unfortunately buying postcards at the retail level is not really what it used to be. I would love to get some postcards when I travel at .25 each. I want to support the retailers that are local but they do go a bit overboard on the prices. If they are buying them at .40 cents each, then sell them at 1 dollar at most. But not 2 or 3 dollars.

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Last October, I was at a conference for work in another part of Ohio and the conference center gift shop sold postcards. I bought a few, and the manager told me that her wholesaler said the publisher had stopped printing postcards when we locked down for COVID, was running out, and was not going to start again. The wholesaler told the manager an hour before I bought my postcards that there would be no more postcards after she sold out.

I knew of another postcard publisher so put the manager in touch. I hope the store will have postcards next year.

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That is so sad! Many publishers have stopped printing postcards but we have to keep them relevant. That is actually why I really like this project - it is just an awesome way to keep this tradition alive. My friends that I send these to send me pictures of the postcards and they are surprised to get something other than bills and junk mail in their mailboxes.

To find the balance between ordering custom postcards from vistaprint and buying from local shops is very difficult. You don’t want to stop buying from vendors because then they won’t want to restock. But then I also don’t want to overpay!

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Here in Brazil Postcards are getting harder to find since the lockdown, but I particularly like to get them in museums shops, so I can send works by Brazilian artists.

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In China, many postcard lovers use the “group buying” method to get their favorite postcards.
Some enthusiastic postcard enthusiasts will organize a group and advance funds to purchase the copyrights of illustrators and photographers, then collect orders from everyone, and then place custom orders with printers. In this way, the cost of copyright and production costs will be shared equally, and everyone can buy the works of various designers. There are also some charity groups that donate their income to those in need. This week I participated in a group purchase to help poor girls in mountainous areas go to school. I think it is very meaningful. Thanks to the kind designers and enthusiastic postcard lovers.

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That is so awesome! I didn’t know about the group buying method. That is a great way to have a meaningful impact in supporting the work of designers! Plus it gets more postcards into circulation!

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