NEW YORK CITY — It might be a Hallmark holiday, but you can do better than a drugstore-bought card this Valentine's Day. For something more original than love hearts, check out these independent retailers that skip the cheese in favor of edgy, sweet, and tongue-in-cheek greeting cards—many of them made right here in New York.
Greenwich Letterpress at 39 Christopher St. in the West Village
What this shop lacks in size, it more than makes up for in personality. Sisters Amy Swanson and Beth Salvini design the quirky, pop-culture referencing cards, which are letterpressed in New Jersey and displayed alongside complementary brands like Cleveland-based Oddball Press. Messages like "Sorry I'm not Don Draper" will resonate with untraditional romantics, and "I love New York cause it brought me to you" is sure to melt even the most cynical heart.
Cursive New York at Grand Central Terminal, 87 E. 42nd St. in Midtown and at ABC Carpet and Home, 888 Broadway in the Flatiron
At these design-conscious gift shops, the extremely edited card selection is minimal but well-chosen. Michael Schultz and Douglas Duncan source them from boutique brands located all over the U.S. as well as Canada, France, and England. Many of the messages are delivered with a wink, like "Til death do us part is for quitters" by Black and White and Red All Over. The casette tape card by La Familia Green is devastatingly romantic if you're old enough to remember what it felt like when someone made you a mixtape.
There's a card to satisfy almost any Valentine at this urban paperie; sentiments range from sweet ("Love songs make sense because of you" by Fugu Fugu Press) and sad ("I miss you" sunset by Hartland Brooklyn) to sassy ("82% sure" by Power and Light). The modern-leaning collection is curated by owner Raegen Hirvela, with an emphasis on eco-friendly items and interesting brands. In addition to the many cards on the display walls, there are discount boxes where you can go digging for bargains.
Give yourself adequate time to browse the display racks at this Mom and Pop shop. There's a lot to see, much of it sourced locally from producers like Foxy & Winston in Red Hook, Dempsey & Carroll on the Upper East Side, and Rochester's Pistachio Press. Co-owner Melinda Morris has gathered a glorious mix of pretty, heartfelt and offbeat greeting cards. We laughed out loud at a letter by Sapling Press in which Spoon informs Fork that he's a dad ("His name is Spork. He has your hair.").
According to owner Andrew Purdom, Queens is fast catching up to Brooklyn when it comes to neighborhood pride. That's why much of his gift shop is dedicated to borough-centric items like Long Island City printed tees, "Made in Astoria" onesies and Hell Gate Bridge mugs. Show your love for both your Valentine and your 'hood with Astoria-themed watercolor cards by artist Jill Anne. Or choose something silly and sweet from Sunnyside illustrator Jenipher Lyn, like a cactus card that says "I think you are succulent."