By Claudie Benjamin
It’s been decades since the Upper West Side was dotted with custom print stores where customers could lean on the advice of a seasoned printer as they selected fonts and paper quality for wedding invitations, business cards and custom holiday greetings.
The Internet, with easy access to design software, precipitated the decline of the local print shops. And, where some similar services remained in copy shops and stylish greeting card stores, most have closed because of drastically reduced business due to Covid-restrictions on celebratory gatherings and reduction in walk-in trade.
But happily, A Little Card Company, ensconced in the Manasse’s Professional Building, built in 1912 at 133 West 72nd, continues to thrive. The business serves individual customers, not-for-profits and corporate clients. A Little Card Company owner Tracy Hattem is all about making customers happy. “I’m a people pleaser.” If, for example, a mother and daughter come in with different ideas about ordering the perfect Bat-Mitzvah announcements, Tracy and her team are committed to finding a design solution that pleases both. She works with event planners to design save-the-dates and wedding invitations that match the occasion and the clients’ dreams. Corporate clients offer a different type of challenge involving designing stationery that incorporates an established logo and overall design concept. Tracy loves her work and the variety of challenges involved with each order. “Some clients know exactly what they want and others have no clue.”
The pandemic period has not changed certain types of orders. Canasta players have continued to order score pads. Notepads in general have been almost wildly popular according to Tracy. She speculates that when you’re home more, a notepad and to-do list is organized and comforting in its simplicity. One type of order is very different. It comes in the form of b’nai mitzvah boxes filled with a variety of swag and sent to family and friends who attend Zoom celebrations that in pre-Covid times would have been hosted as in-person events. Sadly, the pandemic period has also brought orders for sympathy cards.
Tracy has been an Upper West Sider since the early 1990s when she and Eli, her husband, who is in real estate and finance, purchased an apartment on West 66th Street. their children have attended Upper West Side Schools and the family considers themselves true Upper West Siders.
Asked how she found her current office space, Tracy credits her real estate broker Eduardo Bernardes of Manhattan Spaces and Kizner Associates for their assistance. Two years after starting her business at home, she found a great office at 155 West 72d Street. The building rules did not permit working after 8:00pm or on Sundays. That did not suit Tracy who was juggling family with work commitments. The real estate brokers came up with a solution, offering her a large, light- filled office space she liked at least as much as the original. “I love my studio, “she says. Her business has grown almost entirely by word of mouth. She expects that social media promotion for increasing sales will be in her future.
Community service matters to Tracy and the Covid period has engaged her in activities to help those in need. She was very much involved in Feed America fundraising events and in other projects that developed out of the success of that campaign.