Business

Kansas City Businesses Keeping It Old School: Easy, Tiger

Despite the prevalence of iPods, text messaging and e-books, these local low-tech businesses are thriving. How do they do it?

Story by Lindsey Corey | Photos by David Allison

Melanie Bridges and Mike Sayre of Easy, Tiger

Melanie Bridges was never a greetings card sender. But she’s quite the card maker.

“They were too formal for me. They felt so important,” she says. “So what if we changed that and made them fun and flirty and for no specific reason at all? What if people bought cards first and found a reason to give them later instead of the other way around? That idea excited me.”

Easy, Tiger has ditched the greeting card aisle in favor of a cooler distribution solution: old vending machines stocked with the company’s flirty, funny cards. The mission? Resurrecting a lost art form while inspiring acts of spontaneous giving.

And so Easy, Tiger was born in 2013 with the slogan “cards for awesome people.”

Kansas City Businesses Keeping It Old School

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“We didn’t start with cards to cash in on a booming industry, but because we thought we had something unique to offer,” says Bridges, one of Easy, Tiger’s co-founders. “We don’t bother with specific occasions. Not even birthdays. Any card is a birthday card if you want it to be. The cards we produce typically fall into three categories: flirty, random or miss you. Oh, and we have a few ‘sorry’ cards because, let’s face it, those are useful. Humans screw up… a lot. An unexpected card is a different thing entirely than the obligatory birthday card. We feel like if we can make a card that inspires the act of giving and not just fulfills a need, well then you have something.”

Bridges likes the idea of helping to resurrect a lost art. And of rescuing and refurbishing vintage vending machines to showcase and sell the cards in coffee shops around Kansas City.

“I’m definitely inspired by history, and you can see that a lot in the aesthetic of Easy, Tiger,” she says. “We like to take old forgotten things and make them new again. Imagine that—the company that sells greeting cards out of old vending machines likes history.”

And customers seem to appreciate the blast from the past too.

“Who actually likes a Facebook birthday wall post? I bet even Mark Zuckerberg hates them. Nothing says ‘You’re important to me’ like ‘Happy b-day (insert cake emoji),” Bridges jokes. “Are people going to throw their phones in the river and go back to the days of handwritten letters and wax-sealed envelopes? No. But technology was once the thing that stood out; now it’s what makes everything blend together. Cards have the chance to actually cut through the clutter again. They aren’t obsolete, they just have to evolve like everything else.”

Bridges says Easy, Tiger’s cards, glassware and shirts got a lot of attention at Boulevardia this summer, where they sold a lot of cards to men.

“Was it the classy alternative to a drunk text? Perhaps,” she says.

Easy, Tiger vending machines can be found at Quay Coffee, under the plane at The Roasterie, Homer’s Coffeehouse in old Overland Park and the new Filling Station coffee shop on Johnson Drive. You can also view their entire selection and order online at cardsforawesomepeople.com.