What was it that made these sticky little pieces of colorful art designed to bring kids of all ages fun and joy become so popular and collectible in the 80's? I suppose for one, with the vast amount of choices from animals, cartoon characters, hearts, balloons, rainbows, unicorns, race cars, dinosaurs, sports, teddy bears, holiday themes, food, along with so many other fun and creative images it was hard to not find a favorite. Or the many types of stickers from foil, neon, prismatic, fuzzy, puffy, oil filled, water filled, glitter, satin, vinyl, matte, glossy, scented, lenticular (magic motion), color your own, pearly, and so on. Perhaps it was the thrill of being able to stick them everywhere and to everything. How about the fun of trading with friends and hunting for new additions to that ever growing collection? Whatever the reason or reasons, stickers still remain popular and continue to give people of all ages such joy and delight as well as fond childhood memories for many.
I, like many, began collecting stickers in the early 80's while in elementary school. Out of all the things we had collected back then as kids, stickers were by far my favorite. I can't say what the exact reason was as to why they appealed to me so greatly. I think it was the many options, the fact they were easy to find, and also priced just right for my weekly allowance budget. Plus, taking them to school to trade, share, and show off was a whole lot easier than taking my whole My Little Pony collection.
But I learned that being able to take them all to school had certain drawbacks as well. Like any Show-N-Tell day I wanted to share the thing I enjoyed collecting the absolute most...stickers. And those being mostly unicorn and Lisa Frank stickers since they were my favorite to collect. A collection that had taken me a couple of years to acquire. After showing the class, I wanted to continue to show and share my albums with my friends but the only free time we children really had was on the playground during recess. So I decided that day to bring my beloved collection outdoors with me to do just that. Shortly after showing my prized collection, we all decided to go and swing a while before the bell that would soon call us all back to class rang. I set my collection under the lower end of the large metal playground slide figuring it was a good hiding spot and out of the way of other playing children.When it was time to end our after-lunch fun I went to retrieve my albums only to find that both of them had gone missing. I looked everywhere and asked everyone I could think of, even checked the lost-and-found, only to come up empty handed and totally heart broken. I still remember that for a couple of years afterwards I had dreams at night of my favorite sticker and woke up crying thinking of how it was lost, never to be seen again. It may sound a bit silly to be so upset over stickers, but I was only a kid and they were my favorite things in the whole world that I had owned.
For a few years afterwards, I did manage to piece together another sticker collection. But it was smaller and missing many of the stickers that were my favorites. Stickers that were no longer in print and no longer offered in stores. It just wasn't the same collection. Plus, by this time I was also getting older. My teen years were beginning and I mostly forgot about stickers. It wasn't what me and my friends were into anymore. So my single album was stashed and ignored.
It wasn't until I was a wife and mother, sitting in my own children's room together looking at their father's large childhood sticker album in 2008 that it dawned on me, "I wonder if I can find on eBay my favorite sticker that I lost long ago? Since they are just stickers, probably not. But it's worth a look anyways." Wow, was I in for a big shock.
The amount, the brands, the variety, the prices...it was overwhelming to say the least. Not only were there stickers that I remembered but so many more than I ever imagined had even existed. I realized in a matter of a week that I had been offered by the stores very little of all that was actually available when I was a child. I just couldn't believe it. With this amazing discovery, I was a kid all over again. A kid who had a much bigger allowance this time too. I was on my computer for hours each day that summer. The joy, the hunt, the discovering, the learning, and the remembering of stickers I had completely forgotten about. It was hard to not quickly amass a very large collection. I found myself mostly collecting the ones that I had liked as a child. Unicorns and pegasus stickers being the biggest desire, but also the older Lisa Frank roll stickers, Garfield, some Sandylion, Hallmark, Decal Specialties, Oilies, and a new (to me anyways) brand that I don't really remember much of...Hambly Studios. Their foil stickers are so pretty and colorful with their transparent inks over the Mylar foil.
Since I was collecting quite a bit I was also accumulating many duplicates to which I did not need. Only this time I didn't have any friends I could trade with. Instead I had a brilliant idea. Start an online sticker store on eBay and Etsy. Sell the extras I didn't need and use the profits to continue my collecting. As a stay at home mom with a new found hobby, this was the perfect idea for me. It kept me busy with the kids going back to school and since I had a bit of anxiety, staying busy was important. Also, this way it became a self sustaining hobby. Which meant I wasn't dipping into any household funds since my personal funds were getting very low.
It's been a few years now since that amazing 2008 eBay discovery and I still really enjoy every single minute of this wonderful hobby. I also grew into creating my own online sticker store, a Facebook page, as well as a fun Pinterest page. Although my personal collecting has slowed way down due to lack of space and a need to be a bit more realistic about trying to own every single sticker ever made in the 80's. I still greatly enjoy purchasing stickers, collections, and albums to sort though. I carefully pull out the ones that I need for my own collections and then I place the rest on my website to offer to other collectors who are perhaps looking for certain stickers to add to their collections as well.
I think one of the best things about this hobby though is all of the wonderful friends that I've made who share the same passion as I do for these awesome sticky little pieces of art created for kids. We even sometimes trade our extra stickers just like we did as kids which is still a whole lot of fun. I also greatly enjoy sharing any information that I can with new collectors or even sellers who reach out to me for help. The fun, the joy, the passion, and the interest for me just never ends. There's always someone new who's looking for more information or just wants to talk stickers, or a "new" vintage sticker that shows up on eBay or the other online venues and, just like being a kid again, you can't help but get super excited over it. I'm still learning a lot about this hobby but I've noticed there's not a lot of information available. Hopefully in the future, with the help of other collectors, that will change.
And if you're still wondering if I ever found that sticker that I had lost, dreamt about, cried over as a child, and later the thought of made me search eBay in hopes to find it. The answer is yes, I thankfully found my favorite unicorn rainbow sticker made by Decal Specialties (seen below). I actually have about seven of them (each having a slight variation) in my collection right now...as well as a few other different sizes and versions of that exact design too.
Even though this unpleasant thing happened to me as a kid, if it hadn't I wouldn't be where I am today writing this blog and sharing my story.
Jamie (Miss Midie)