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May 23, 2005

That "other" special someone

I've been hearing from my regular readers, and both of them wanted to know why I haven't posted in a few days. The answer is that we were away for the weekend with some friends at Cacapon State Park in West Virginia and when I returned, I had to meet a serious work deadline (today).

Several of our friends mentioned this article in our local paper here in Montgomery County about an intrepid Bethesda entrepreneur-ess named Cathy Gallagher, who has come up with the idea of making greeting cards for people who are in extra-marital affairs. And, no, I'm absolutely not making this up.

Bethesda resident Cathy Gallagher created the line of cards called the Secret Lover collection.

Gallagher came up with the idea for the cards after she and her husband had a conversation about how many of their friends were involved in extramarital affairs.

"There were all the different people that we knew that were involved in [affairs] and I thought that must be a really difficult situation to be in," she said.

As someone who buys a lot of greeting cards herself, she said the idea came to her and she thought there would be an enormous, untapped market for it.
The guy who's designing the cards for her apparently agrees about the business opportunity and is sufficiently non-judgmental to join in her project.
She collaborates with creative director Jim Grove, who designs and paints the images on the cards' covers.

Grove, a partner and creative director at AetherQuest Solutions, an Arlington, Va., consulting and design firm, is the husband of Gallgher's friend of 20 years. He said that Gallagher originally asked him to design the logo and Web site for her company. After she learned about his fine art background and saw some of his work, she asked him to design the cards as well.

"I was surprised by how great an idea it was," Grove said of the Secret Lover Collection. "It is definitely a unique product and as far as a business venture, I think it's an interesting concept and idea."

He said he doesn't have a problem with the cards' taboo subject matter.

"It's something that's in our society," he said. "We're not promoting it or judging it."
And here's a show manager for the greeting card industry, who sounds just as non-judgmental:
"I certainly haven't seen anything like this," said Lori Robinson, group show manager of The National Stationery Show, an industry trade show taking place in New York City from Sunday through today. "I think it's reflective of a trend that's going on in the industry. Cards are more specific and more focused to the audiences the cards are for. As a consumer, you don't have to come up with your own words anymore. It's done for you."
Gallagher herself says she's not judging (just profiting):
And while some people may disapprove of the idea of cards for people cheating on their spouses, Gallagher said her cards don't encourage or legitimize affairs.

"I'm not condemning or condoning affairs," she said. "Everybody makes a choice. Whether my cards are out there or not, people are going to get in affairs."

She expects her cards to be successful because they express the intense emotions that flare up between couples in affairs without being judgmental.

"People who are involved in affairs are not bad people," she said. "A lot of people meet the right person at the wrong time."

* * * * *
Aside from the prospect of making money through her new business, Gallagher said she's also doing a service.

"This way they have a way to express their feelings. They're in this conflicting situation. They love this other person but they may not want to break up their family," she said. "It's very taboo, but I'm not judgmental about it. I feel like I'm helping them."

Several people have expressed an interest in the cards, either because they're in affairs and would like to buy them, or as a good business idea, she said.

"Business-wise, they understand that it's an untapped market."
But there is one person who is rising up against this. A friend of ours, who was with us this weekend, announced she would tell the owner any store that sold these cards that she would never buy anything at the store again and would publicly boycott the store, just for good measure. We never agree with this friend about politics, but I give her a lot of credit for her righteous indignation.

UPDATE (5/27): Responses from Gazette readers.