Why Are Greeting Cards So Expensive?
By Derek Thompson
Why should a piece of paper with a slogan cost $5? The answer starts with classical economics, takes a world tour to China, and ends with you.
PAPER, PEOPLE, AND V-DAY MONOPOLIES
To understand a greeting card's price, start with its most important costs: Paper and people. High-grade paper is necessary to distinguish greeting cards from something you could print from a home computer, and it's getting more expensive. So are people. In China, where greeting cards with "special treatments" (e.g. sound chips) are often produced, wages are rising quickly. In the United States, where Hallmark makes most of its cards, workers are already expensive, creating tension in an industry facing a slow decline in the face of a cultural shift toward paperless greetings. In October last year, Hallmark closed a Kansas City plant and let go of 300 workers. The company declined to comment for this story.