Retail viewpoint: Love Letters

Janet and Dudley Stowe own Love Letters – a family-run independent card and gift retailer in Anlaby, Hull and winner of the Retas award for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – North and Northern Ireland. Janet talks to PGBuzz about Valentine’s Day and business in general.

Heart Throb: “Valentine’s Day was very good for us, our sales were up by 15%. Men started buying their Valentine’s Day cards very early this year, at least a week before the big day, so much so that most of our Wife cards had sold out by Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately general Valentine’s cards just didn’t sell. Where have the days gone when you sent a secret card to someone you fancy at school or work? Where has the romance and the fun part of the day gone?

The weather on the Saturday and Sunday before Valentine’s was appalling and business was very slow, there was just nobody around for those two days. But things did pick up on the Monday and Tuesday and we took a week’s takings in those two days.

We also have added Creation Express’ personalised products service and this has really brought customers through the door, giving them something different no matter what they are looking for. We have made some weird and wonderful things for our customers, but all of them leave happy.”

A Made Hand
A contemporary design in A Made Hand’s brand new Paparazzi range.

Loving It: “I have spotted and now stock some great new ranges:

  • WaggyDogz – beautiful hand-drawn pictures not only of dogs but other animals, cats, horses, farm yard animals etc. I’m sure the many dog walkers we have passing the shop will snap these up.
  • BGC – these are lovely cards at low cost, perfect for our customers who shop on a budget.
  • A Made Hand – I saw this publisher at last year’s PG Live and thought how lovely they were and that I should stock them but never did anything about it until earlier this year when a rep, who now carries them, came in, so it was a no brainer, I just had to have them.”

Big Love: “Since winning The Retas award for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – North and Northern Ireland, and having our new floor fitted last October, things have gone from strength to strength. We have had lots of new customers coming through the doors because of the award. Customers have seen it in the local newspaper or FSB magazine, heard us on the radio, as well as lots of new customers who have come to us on recommendation, the best type of advertising! Also (hopefully) the new Business Rates will be in our favour and they will go down.

We are celebrating our Silver Wedding anniversary this year so we are treating ourselves to a cruise, which we are really looking forward to. It’s our first holiday since we bought the shop in 2013. Overall life is good at the moment and we are loving every minute of it.”

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