A clever card snark

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSSnarkyThe anti-Hallmark: Alisa Star's Snarky Cards are bitter, biting and popular. Just the right thing to commemorate a divorce or psycho breakup.
Photo by Michael Halle
It’s 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening and the Triple Nickel bar on Southeast Belmont in Portland is relatively quiet. A woman dressed in bright red walks up to a table of people and makes a pitch: “Hi, I’m Alisa Star and I make brutally honest greeting cards.” In a few minutes, the people at the table are laughing uproariously, passing stacks of the handmade cards back and forth and shouting out the names of friends who fit the messages on the cards.

Each card is made of handmade paper, decorated with a simple painted flower, and covered with typewritten text that starts with “Dear” and ends with “Sincerely.” What comes in between those two words is usually language and topics that can’t be reprinted in a general-circulation magazine. A few however, are PG rated:

“Happy divorce! Now you can start sleeping with someone who likes you!” “Congratulations on getting a grownup haircut.” “I wish you were cooler or I was more lame. Either way I don’t see this going anywhere.”

They’re biting and acerbic and Star has come up with about 400 designs for her aptly named one-woman business: Snarky Cards. The cards are about relationships, breakups, one-night stands and, for the most part, sex. They sell for $2 each or 3 for $5 and since she quit her job selling printer supplies in mid 2007 to go into business for herself, she’s sold approximately 12,000 cards in 50 Portland bars and stores, and online.

Star, who is 29, moved to Portland from San Jose, Calif., three years ago, following the siren call of the city’s artsy, laid-back reputation. Her background is in sales: business-to-business phone sales, dating service phone sales. The idea behind Snarky Cards came from her own snarky personality. “My nature determined what I’m doing,” she says.

The first thing Star found when she started bringing her cards to bars is that selling sarcasm to the inebriated is easier than selling printer toner to sober people. “People come into bars expecting to have fun. If you’re offering them something funny in that environment, it’s not a hard sell.”

Bar sales require more than just an engaging pitch. She considers herself an entertainment package: She dresses with flair, carries her cards in a handmade box she hangs from her neck and spends as much as 20 minutes at a table, joking and teasing with customers. She’s established a strong enough brand that a large percentage of her bar sales are to repeat customers.

Outside of the bars, Snarky Cards is growing. Retail stores have begun approaching Star on their own accord. She found that by attracting the attention of bloggers, it’s driving her online sales higher. She’s not sure what the economy will do to business. Already she’s seen people become more selective with their purchases. But she’s responded as well, coming up with her own appropriately sardonic take on the meltdown.
ABRAHAM HYATT
 

More Articles

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Urban benediction

Linda Baker
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
072215 THUMB Credit-PontificalAcademyofSciencesBY LINDA BAKER

Charlie Hales has long viewed sound urban planning as the route to salvation: social, economic and environmental. This week, the mayor's city design philosophy got the nod of approval from a bona fide spiritual authority, Pope Francis.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS