Students aim for card record

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Their collection of business cards started out as a friendly competition to see which one of them could get more.

Now, Kaylea Spiroff and Zachary Cain, seniors at Nansemond River High School, are working together to collect at least 50,000 cards and set a Guinness World Record in the process. Currently, they’re approaching 3,000 cards and do not have a timetable to get to the record total.

Spiroff started collecting in July 2012 when she was on a trip to Chicago visit her mom’s cousin. While there, Spiroff stopped at an art gala, and all of the pieces had business cards. She turned it into an art project of her own.


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“When we got back to my mom’s cousin’s apartment, we started taping them together and we made a placemat,” Spiroff said, “and I was like, ‘Whoa, I can make a lot of these,’ so I started collecting them then.”

She said Cain found out about her collection on a day he was around her while she was receiving some business cards.

“I don’t remember how it happened,” Spiroff said, “but I guess I was with Zach for something and I picked up like 30 business cards from somewhere, and he was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I was like, ‘Collecting them.’ So he started helping me.”

Cain, who shares several classes with Spiroff, credits her with starting his own collection after he overheard her talking about them and didn’t believe how many she had collected.

“She once said when she first started she only had 400,” Cain said. “So she held up her fingers and she said 400, and I wanted to prove her wrong. And that’s what started it.”

He subsequently started his own collection, but he’s still trailing her total. He said he just broke 1,300, while Spiroff was up to 1,629.

“I remember reading … in an Encyclopedia Brown book that every young boy should always have a collection of something,” Cain said.

He said he looks up businesses and localities, and asks friends, family and neighbors to send them to him as they travel. He separates them by category and puts them in plastic sheets in binders. Currently, he has four binders and another box he hasn’t yet sorted through.

Cain said he may enlist a neighbor to use social media to try to get more business cards once they reach 10,000 or 15,000, but for now, he’s planning to stick to word-of-mouth and handwritten letters.

“I’m not really into social media like most people my age are,” Cain said. “And I personally have always preferred a handwritten letter. It shows you care, and it shows you’re trying something for real and not goofing around. That’s always been my take on it.”

Spiroff has most of her business cards in a Priority Mail shipping box, with the ones more valuable to her — ones from family or from overseas — in a Ziploc bag. She eventually plans to get binders for her cards.

Cain said it’s gotten to the point where family members randomly mail them to him, but he has also sent handwritten letters to businesses around the country.

“It’s definitely cool watching as they continue to grow and (see) how many different ones that really are out there,” Cain said, “because it’s kind of one of those things where you see places you go, but you never think of how many there are out there. So collecting them helps you see how many there are, and it does feel good watching as you collect them and watch the stack get bigger.”

Spiroff said she also asks family to send her cards. She has received a number of cards from businesses in places such as Zimbabwe and Norway, thanks to a traveling great-uncle.

“I think it’s really cool because seeing where they all come from, there’s cards for businesses that I didn’t even know existed,” Spiroff said. “I have business cards from psychics, funeral criers, and other weird occupations that other people don’t think exist.”

Two of her most treasured cards include the last business card from her grandmother’s restaurant, “Annie’s Pot,” in Howell, Mich., and another carved out of wood from a log furniture business. She keeps her grandmother’s card in a protective cover.

“My goal is to get enough to where I can cover a wall and make wallpaper,” Spiroff said. “Or I could do a kitchen counter and put glass over it.”

Her card collection has caused some fun moments in her home.

“We’ll be around the house, and my dad will be like, ‘We need to get this fixed,’ and I’m like, ‘I have a business card for that. You want me to call them?’” Spiroff said, laughing.