Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tips for Finding Postcards

I've been collecting these postcards for a couple of years now, and I've even, on occasion, gotten to go out to smaller counties and send myself a postcard.

Here are a few tips for finding me a postcard while you're on the road. Some of you veterans may have already figured this stuff out :)

Where to find postcards (in order of likelihood of finding one):

  • Chambers of Commerce. Every region over 2,000 population all the way up to the largest cities have a chamber of commerce. If you don't know what it is: a chamber of commerce is when a bunch of businesses form an alliance and all pay annual dues in order to have a single organization that promotes all business throughout their area. Since the chamber is in the business of promoting their area, it is likely to have a postcard about its area to spread the word. Chambers also usually have racks of brochures about things to do in the area.

    In fact, once I went to a chamber and asked them if they had any postcards. They had to go in a back room and pull one out of the back of a filing cabinet, but sure enough, they had one!

  • Museums. For slightly larger cities (10,000 population) there is usually at least one museum. Often the museums are owned by the chamber of commerce or local historical society, so they are in the business of promoting their city and are likely to have a postcard about that museum. And the smaller the city, the more likely the museum is free!

  • Airports. Obviously only the bigger cities have airports, but they all invariably have postcards in the airport gift shop. If you wonder how you're going to send a postcard when you have a layover, often the airport has a mail drop slot somewhere.

    I did this in the Minneapolis airport, but the drop slot was in a completely different concourse and I didn't have time to get to it. So I asked the gift shop employee if they would send it to me, and sure enough, they did! (Note: I realize the scan in the link is broken and I plan to fix it)

  • National and State Parks. The only time I've been unable to get a postcard at a National or State Park was when they were completely out of postcards. I think if you look at the postcards that J. Stephen Conn has sent me, you'll see there are a lot from National Parks (mostly from his trip to the Rockies).

  • Antique Stores/Gift Shops. Often in small towns you'll find a quaint little historic "main street" shopping area. Often this is also where the Chamber of Commerce is. But shops are open on the weekends, whereas the Chambers are usually not. However, you are definitely less likely to find them here. UPDATE: Audrey also commented that gift shops at larger RV Parks will often have postcards.

  • "Travel Stop" Gas Stations. This is more of a hit or miss than the others, but if you can find a large gas station like a Buc-ee's or a Love's Travel Stop, they may have a state postcard, as a last resort.

  • UPDATE: Lobbies of Motels. Audrey mentioned that she's had luck finding postcards in lobbies of motels as well.
Where not to find postcards (I've found that checking these places is a waste of time):
  • Note: The exception to all of the places in this list is in tourist areas in large cities (like downtown Houston, Baltimore's Inner Harbor, or anywhere in New York City). In these areas it's hard not to find a postcard.

  • Pharmacies. You would think they do, since they have a ton of greeting cards, but I have yet to see a single postcard in a pharmacy, even non-chain local ones. I always found this to be surprising for Walgreens, since a lot of Walgreens carry T-shirts with local towns or high schools on them. But alas, no postcards.

  • Grocery Stores. Pretty much the same reason as pharmacies. This goes for Wal-Mart too.

  • Schools. I've never been able to find a school postcard anywhere.
Or, if you really want to get creative, you can do what my parents did and print out a postcard with a portable photo printer on blank postcards and send it to me: dad & mom

Hope that helps all you postcard hunters out there! And thanks!


Audrey Jensen-- said...

The other places we have found post cards are lobbies of motels and gift shops at the larger RV parks.


Carey said...

Thanks, mom, I'll add them to the list!