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Celebrating Creativity: How the Best Creative Firm Can Transform Your Business

Using the best creative firm to problem-solve—whatever your industry, business, or profession—is always in season. In honor of the recent holidays, here are a few examples of how employing a little ingenuity to wrap paper better meets customer needs has turned several small business owners into retail legends.

How to Create New Sales by Wrapping Up Old Ones

Since the Middle Ages, merchants worldwide have wrapped sold goods in plain, heavy brown paper to protect them from being soiled and targeted by potential thieves once a customer left the shop. Then, at the beginning of the twentieth century, American retailers started using manila wrapping paper imprinted with store names and logos. The motivation behind this change was, as a 1911 issue of Hardware Dealer’s Magazine put it, “to make friends for your store.” This wrapping paper represented a service to the buyer and advertised the store wherever customers carried their packages. R.H. Macy’s, Buster Brown Shoes, and hundreds of other merchants nationwide used this creative way to encourage future sales by “wrapping up” the last one.

The Creative Use of Bags Led to Higher Sales

Another creative leap forward in merchandise packaging occurred in 1911 when Walter Deubener, an enterprising grocer in St. Paul, Minnesota, created the first shopping bag with handles. His motive was simple: he wanted to make it easier for customers to carry their purchases home so they would buy more during their visits to his store. It wasn’t long before other retailers adopted his innovation and started printing designs and their names and logos on the bags. Since the bags were convenient to reuse for other purchases, they functioned as portable billboards for issuing merchants for months—perhaps even years—after they left the store.

An Accidental Innovation Created a New Industry

A few years later, another evolution in how retailers and consumers celebrate the holidays occurred in the Kansas City stationery store of Joyce and Rollie Hall. During the Christmas season of 1917, the Hall brothers enjoyed an unusually high volume of customers and, as a result, ran entirely out of their tissue paper inventory. Customers bought this tissue paper, sometimes called “freak paper,” to rewrap their gifts as an alternative to the plain brown or branded paper they came in from the stores. The brothers did not want to lose a sale, so the brothers suggested that customers buy decorated French paper, usually used for lining envelopes, instead of the sold-out tissue paper. The customers loved the idea—and the paper. When the brothers repeated this strategy the following year, they enjoyed even better results and more significant profits.

In 1919, the Hall brothers manufactured their fancy holiday gift paper line to fully capitalize on customer demand. By expanding the product line for their shop, the Hallmark Store, they also gave birth to an entirely new industry.

Today, we spend $2.6 billion annually on gift-wrapping items from Hallmark and other manufacturers, including fancy gift bags, paper rolls and sheets, ribbons, and many decorations for all occasions. It just shows what using a little imagination to meet customer needs can do.

We hope the examples above inspire you to expand, extend, or enlarge your customer offerings by applying creativity to your business. You may find, as others have, that going beyond the expected can lead to higher levels of success you’ll be celebrating all year long.

Michele Allen

With over 30 years of design and marketing experience, I founded Crux in 2005, a 360° Creative and Marketing Agency, catering to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits. Specializing in experiential spaces, museums, brand development, and digital marketing, I excel in crafting memorable experiences while emphasizing the significance of authentic brand communication. I offer expertise in Brand Development, Trade Show Exhibits, Museums, Corporate Spaces, Interactives & VR/AR, and Digital Marketing, committed to tailored support and guidance.