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Sad sign of the times: we’re running out of sympathy cards

Sad sign of the times: we're running out of sympathy cards

SACheckley/iStock(NEW YORK) — More than 73,500 Americans have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  And that sad reality has resulted in another unfortunate sign of the times: greeting card companies are running out of sympathy cards.

“During this time of social distancing, the ability to communicate in writing to friends and loved ones is more important than ever to many consumers,” said Kelly Ricker, chief creative officer at American Greetings, the second-largest producer of greeting cards.  “Our ability to keep cards in stock has been limited at times by the various shelter-in-place orders that state and local governments have implemented.”

Translation: greeting card specialty stores are closed, and the greeting card aisles at supermarkets and drug stores have been picked bare.  That leaves ecards as your option, or, if you’d rather send something tangible, ordering greeting cards online.

“It has been unprecedented,” said Alan Friedman, who runs Great Arrow Graphics in Buffalo and is a board member of the Greeting Card Association.  “There are $250 orders for greeting cards and every one of them is a sympathy or encouragement.”

Friedman also believes “sending a sympathy message needs to be done in a heartfelt way and a text or Facebook timeline postings are probably not adequate,” adding, “The ability to write is rising to the surface in a way that it hasn’t before.”

If you need some inspiration, here’s Friedman’s favorite sympathy sentiment:  “The beauty of a life well lived is that it’s never forgotten.”

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