I've Got an Unhealthy Obsession with Lovepop Gift Cards, But It's Cool
by Johnny Monsarrat
What is the purpose of a gift card? It's a way to brighten someone's day without having to buy them an actual gift, like a Red Sox bobble head that just adds to the clutter on their shelves. And it's also a message that says, "I care", or possibly, "I'm sorry I accidentally slept with your sister. And your mom. At the same time."
If you're like me, you've long since gotten tired of Hallmark cards. They're cute but generic.
When you send someone a card that says "I didn't write this, but I spent 60 seconds picking it out," it almost implies that you don't care rather than that you do care. Picking out a card with a cartoon joke is sort of dodging the emotional moment, a cop out, like "I'm too fragile to be open about my feelings for you, so ha ha, here's a joke card." Sending just an e-card, an electronic card? Boy, I guess that really means you don't care! It's astounding to me that after decades of social progress, gift cards still feature flowers and cooking for mothers, neckties and lawn mowing for fathers. People are diverse. A generic card doesn't show them that you know them well. It shows that basically you don't know them.
And what do you do when all the cards say, "World's #1 Grandmother!! I love you so much for how much you inspired and helped me!"? Speaking just for myself, I had three grandmothers, two of whom didn't care much for my existence, and the third was a good person but not savvy enough to give me life advice or inspire me by example. I've never been able to find a, "You're pretty okay, Grandma" card. Once I had so much trouble finding a Hallmark birthday card for a male friend that I gave up and as a joke bought a "For your Quinceanera, Princess" card. I crossed it all out and wrote "Happy Birthday".
Gee, I had no idea that I had such strong feelings about greeting cards! Maybe it's just because I value thoughtful gestures and the kindness they show. So you have to do it right.
This issue must have been percolating in my mind for some time, because I kept noticing the Lovepop booths in the subway. When you walk past you can see them selling gift cards. They have one in South Station and one in the Charles Street station. They're set up at the Pru, Faneuil Hall, and the Natick Mall, and you can also buy online. Eventually I felt like Lovepop was calling to me, like a friendly ghost voice that nobody except me can hear.
"Jooooohnny!" the disembodied voice seemed to say. "Come ooooover and loooook at our giiiiiift cards!"
So fine. I stopped one day and went over to look. Their gift cards are big, oversized. They lay flat, like a Hallmark greeting card. But then you open them and a 3D sculpture pops up, just like a children's pop-up book. Ho ho ho! Pretty great. Yea, man. It's like origami but they animate. It makes you want to close and open them over and over, slowly. It's mesmerizing to watch them fold and unfold.
Even better, the cards are classy, instead of cartoony. But they're not so pastel and syrupy that you can only use them with your elderly relatives who collect porcelain statuettes, like the Jacquie Lawson E-Cards. They come blank, without any writing, so you can write your own text, which isn't that hard. Don't be lazy. Writing something takes less time than hunting for a Hallmark card that ends up not saying quite what you wanted to say. And it makes your card warmer, more personal, and more thoughtful.
Lovepop cards are delicate. Do not give them to your dog to chew on. Do not fold them to put them into your pocket. Do not use as a coaster. They cut the cards with precision lasers, but no lasers are included in your purchase. (Add lasers to your cards, guys!) They are a bit too showy to use in a business context, although the one with a cup of coffee is a nice try. (For thank you cards after business meetings, I prefer plain blank off-white cards that don't even say "Thank you" on the front.) They are probably too heavy to hang on a refrigerator with a magnet.
As you know, I review events all the time, and have gotten fearless about brazenly asking for press comps and giveaway tickets. (I keep some, but almost all of the tickets I win go to total strangers, to you, my readers.) But I haven't reviewed something that wasn't an event for a long while -- not since I finagled a free overnight hotel stay in 2013, I think, part of my Halloween blitz where I reviewed 20 Halloween attractions in 10 days.
I was intrigued by Lovepop, though, so I contacted them and said something like, "I don't know how to say this, but I'm kind of a big deal." And they sent me cards! So now I have all these cards to show to friends, and have been entertaining people showing them around. They pop. I haven't had this kind of great reaction to a gift wrap concept since I made little origami animals out of paper and put them on gifts I was giving away one Xmas.
I like the one where a giant squid is attacking a boat. And the spooky one where a tree comes to life and is about to eat a cat in one bite. I'm not so fond of "dead eyes possibly on meth or possessed by Satan" teddy bear, but it has a certain Grandma appeal, I'm sure. But you've gotta check out the shark and the fancy lobster on their website. They have a whole suite of holiday-themed cards, including romantic cards with bouquets. One of the cards features a "love bed", which I guess means, "Why are you wasting time opening and closing this 3D card over and over, chanting Looooovepop in a spooky ghost voice, when we could be fucking?"
They're pretty great. Great enough for me to spend an hour writing this up when I could have just bought some. I think I may have an unhealthy obsession. But it's cool. It's not a problem. I can stop anytime I want to. Now just one more gift card... Please send more gift cards.
Check them out at www.lovepopcards.com.