I was in a meeting the other day when I found myself, like many of us have said before, stating the old quote, “What we do is not rocket science.”  Sub “rocket science” with brain surgery or Phi Beta Kappa or being a stay-at-home parent to three kids under three and in any instance, you get the picture!  I was simply stating that promo shouldn’t be and isn’t that hard, but it got me thinking.  And I am here to admit to all of you that (*gasp*) I am wrong.  Promotional products can be really challenging.  In this current climate we are in, we are literally combating the climate itself, weathering literal storms that hit us via snow, tornados, flash floods or hurricanes.  We are dealing with potential price increases from tariffs and now a Coronavirus that has greatly impacted people across China. And while we know these circumstances are beyond our suppliers’ control, we distributors still must find creative ways to resolve issues resulting from these situations.  Some days we are scratching our heads to figure out how to get an item where it needs to be and it’s literally a puzzle.


On the topic of the virus, I want to share the communication we have been receiving from a number of our suppliers so as not to surprise our customers.  There are many factories not yet open due to the virus outbreak with some unsure of when exactly they will be cleared to open.  These factory owners are at the mercy of the Chinese government’s approval.  Some of the most anticipated categories to be affected by production include: Drinkware, Umbrellas, Tech Products and some bags.  Fortunately, City Paper has great resources with factories in other countries that to date remain unaffected by the Coronavirus.  Our suppliers also have done a fantastic job of maintaining deep inventory in best- selling product ahead of the recent Chinese New Year.  


So I truly think I myself have been underestimating how challenging what we do as promotional marketing distributors actually can be.  I promise that this blog post is not all dooms day.  The flip side to the difficulties we experience – the missed ship dates, the smudged ink, the incorrect logo, the unexpected price increase (you get the picture) – is the good that promo can also do.  A few of the biggest messages at the PPAI Expo, the promo industry’s largest trade show, were centered around Eco-Friendly Sustainability and Social Goodness.  Our suppliers are finding ways to give back to their communities, meaningful causes and increasing awareness of how promotional products can share a positive message while also leaving a positive impact on the world.


When you purchase any item from Leed’s EcoSmart line, they donate 1% of sales to nonprofits dedicated to protecting the planet.  Products are no longer made out of recycled materials; many are now also biodegradable.  


Sweda has a program with Basecamp® that donates a percentage of sales to The Wounded Warrior Project.  In 2019, Basecamp donated $100,000 to support the foundation’s mission to honor and empower wounded warriors.


Logomark has a similar program with their product lines for Perka®, iCool®, and Work® to support Shelter to Solder™ (www.sheltertosoldier.org), which serves to help support both veterans and rescue dogs to help them both recover from post-traumatic stress and move forward with renewed hope.


Our products, when appropriately sourced and branded, can do a heck of a lot of good.  Promo items raise funds for great causes.  They showcase support of the ones we love as we walk beside, in honor of or in memory of them in walks and races across the country.  Promotional products educate.  They inform.  They can pass along a message of hope.  They bring smiles and joy.  Promo can even taste good.


It’s our job as distributors - when things get tough, when we are tested and challenged – to step up as a surgeon, as a scientist, or as a political figure would be expected – to help our customers.  Solve the issues in the most honest, transparent, and best possible way we can and know that we truly did our best to see the project through from beginning to completion.  Things do happen beyond our control, but it is our reaction to those moments that truly define us.  So while we cannot control what tests will come our way, City Paper will do our very best to help you find the glass half full.  That is our commitment and our legacy.  How can we help your company achieve yours?


City Paper sends our thoughts and prayers out to those affected by the virus.  We are committed to providing you, our customers, with safe, quality products.  We will continue to keep you updated as we know more.