Thursday, April 18, 2013

RANDOM POST: Sao Paulo...Where Are Your Card Shops!?!

I only discovered about a fortnight ago that Brazilians don't really bother with cards, on the morning of my friend’s wedding. After withdrawing some grubby looking notes from the cash point ready to give her as my gift, I suddenly thought that I should put them into a make myself seem a little classier!

For a full five seconds I considered just handing the notes over, but then it dawned on me that I was going to a wedding and not a strip club; and her ramming those notes down her bra to keep them safe was not really an option.
"Welcome to my wedding Andrew, thanks for the present! Let me introduce you to my bridesmaids!"
So I went to the shopping centre nearest my house to scour the card shop. I looked around, then looked some more, and then I retraced my steps and took another look for this elusive card shop....but NOTHING! There was no shop specifically for cards, I couldn't believe it! This meant that despite having been in this shopping centre daily for almost over two years, the fact that there wasn't a card shop had gone unnoticed by me this whole time.

So why had I assumed that there was one in the first place? Well, back in the UK card shops are a dominant feature of the high streets. And cards are not only found in card shops, but a half decent selection can be found in any self respecting supermarket or even petrol station. So I'd naively just assumed Brazil also followed suit and had an overly generous selection of cards all over the place too. Well I was wrong!

Papel Magia in Shopping Morumbi,
there are a generous 4 racks of cards in there. I've since been told about
this place.
Clinton Cards in the UK, a whole shop devoted to cards (and Cliff
Richards calendars!)

Eventually 45 minutes after I’d started looking, I stumbled across a rack of cards in the back of one of those quirky shops you'd never normally shop in. You know the type, ones that sell things like slinkies, photo frames in the shape of cats and rubics cubes. There I had a choice of three wedding cards.

‘So where the hell are all the cards?’ I asked myself. Well, after talking to my friends and students about it, I've discovered that Brazilians don’t really ‘do’ cards. Some enjoy giving cards on rare occasions…but not all. In fact, the people here I talked to struggled to remember the last time they’d sent a card.
“We can just send an email instead” said one of my students, before adding, “but I love the idea that people still send cards in the UK, it’s so old fashioned!”
"Old fashioned, WHO? Us!?! WHATEVER, this card I'm writing in plays Justin Bieber when you open it up!""
For me, this has held a mirror up to my own culture's love of sending and receiving cards, and I have a feeling my sister will be sat reading this blog post in absolute HORROR! She loves sending cards; in fact if you ever so much as hold a door open for her, you can expect a thank you card through the mail a few days later. Yea, I’m exaggerating a little, but not on her love for cards! She BLOODY loves them, as evidently do most people in the UK because there are cards for literally everything:

Choosing the right card can take a while when faced
with some awful selections!
Birthdays, Christmas, mother’s day, father’s day, thank you, sympathy, congratulations, retirement….you name it, there is a huge selection of cards for it. And not only this, people often expect to receive them too.

Culturally though, the sending and receiving of cards isn't nearly as important or significant over here.

So don’t worry too much about being on a Brazilian’s Christmas card list…because the majority won’t actually have one anyway! 


  1. Actually, Brazilians do send Christmas cards. Well, a bit. More than on other occasions anyway. Around November-December you should see small stands popping up around town selling just Christmas cards.

    1. Cheers for commenting and giving me this the tip, I'll be looking out for these cards!

  2. Funny, I'm reading this while working in my card shop. (Philadelphia area)

    1. Ha ha! Well thanks for stopping by to comment on my card blog from your card shop! I wouldn't think about moving and setting up a shop here in Brazil though!