Agents love a deal

Points mean prizes as indie sales stars reveal their top scores

Sales agents have their fingers on the buzzers of what’s going on in the greeting card industry so, with tv games shows enjoying something of a renaissance as the warm welcome the general public gave the return of Deal Or No Deal, PG has been asking a few to put their scores on the doors.

In the next in the series of finding out what points mean prizes on independent agents’ scoreboards, we hear from Carl Stirk, Beth Robson, and Brendan Cahill

Above & top: Ever the (game) showman, Carl Stirk with his friend Beki
Above & top: Ever the (game) showman, Carl Stirk with his friend Beki

Contestant: Cark Stirk, of Carl Victor Agencies

Wheel Of Fortune: “I cover the north east representing The Art File, Cinnamon Aitch, Five Dollar Shake, Hammond Gower, Mr MQ, Rachel Ellen, Rosie Made A Thing and some smaller publishers.”

Was 2023 a Deal Or No Deal: “It was a challenging year for all with the cost-of-living crisis and people watching how they spent, budgeting their incomes to what they needed and could live without.

“Retailers in my area said they have been through two recessions and a pandemic and have never known anything like it, but the show must go on and tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

The Weakest Links: “Retail customers were very cautious with their Christmas ordering as they had quite a lot of stock left over from the previous year due to the postal strikes, negativity in the media, and the increase in postage costs which sullied the attitude towards the tradition of sending Christmas cards. Thankfully Christmas this year showed tradition and goodwill do matter.”

 Above: The whole greeting card scene is a Generation Game reckons Carl Stirk
Above: The whole greeting card scene is a Generation Game reckons Carl Stirk

The Mastermind high scorers: “Happy customers and industrious creative publishers. It felt great to have these relationships, sharing feedback and imparting information that had a positive contribution on their businesses.”

Your Catchphrase for 2024: “Life is a game.”

Fingers on buzzers: “My first choice to host or participate in would be the Generation Game, especially as our whole industry is all about births, marriages, milestone birthdays, retirement and, sadly, sympathy.”

Above: If it means being in with a chance of winning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Beth Robson is happy to phone a friend
Above: If it means being in with a chance of winning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Beth Robson is happy to phone a friend

Contestant: Beth Robson

Wheel Of Fortune: “London, representing Charlie Rabbit, Mint Publishing, Museums & Galleries, Real & Exciting Designs, Redback, Special Delivery and U Studio.”

Was 2023 a Deal Or No Deal: “Customers’ confidence returned and saw a marked resurgence in willingness to stray from the norm. Great new products from all publishers always make everyone happy and last year was no exception. Christmas was late again but sell through was excellent. So, all in all, it was a deal.”

The Weakest Links: “Spiralling costs for the self-employed salesperson coupled with the ongoing closure of beloved independent sites were not good news. The hangover from the postal strikes and the fear they may do it again certainly preyed on people’s minds in the early part of the year. Also Tube and train strikes and the continued WFH trend hit sales. The price of stamps was a major topic of concern too.”

Above: Answering questions on University Challenge was a pocket money earner for Beth Robson
Above: Answering questions on University Challenge was a pocket money earner for Beth Robson

The Mastermind high scorers: “The feeling of winning new business in the midst of the constant sales war of attrition was a great winning feeling. Plus, finally finding a fabulous place to stay near the NEC after many decades of searching scored some points, but the best was the never-ending joy and happiness I derived from the wit and unexpected kindness of others.”

Your Catchphrase for 2024: “Let’s make another appointment.”

Fingers on buzzers: “As a teenager I used to receive 50p from my parents for every correct answer I got on University Challenge so I’d like to host that quiz. I’d also to appear as a contestant on Mastermind so I could swot up on some bonkers subject!”

Above: Brendan Cahill is buoyed up by the consumer’s appreciation of what indies offer
Above: Brendan Cahill is buoyed up by the consumer’s appreciation of what indies offer

Contestant: Brendan Cahill

Wheel Of Fortune: “I cover Wales and Gloucestershire representing Dandelion Stationery, Glick, House Of Marbles, The Original Welsh Candle Company, Tracks Publishing, Woodmansterne, Words ‘N’ Wishes and WPL.”

Was 2023 a Deal Or No Deal: “It was most definitely a deal for myself and my wonderful customers. I started 2023 with the loss of a principal that I’d been carrying for five years, having been replaced by a full-time sales rep, but every cloud has a silver lining and I was very fortunate to be appointed to represent House of Marbles for Wales, thereby opening up my little brain to opportunities for its gifts, toys, books, games and puzzles.”

The Weakest Links: “This has to be the continued worry and concern of rising costs of mostly everything we need and spend on every day.”

Above: Brendan wants to be a contender on Family Fortunes
Above: Brendan wants to be a contender on Family Fortunes

The Mastermind high scorers: “It was great how some many members of the public appreciated how important independent shops are to the High Street, meaning some experienced an excellent trading year for 2023 and a bonkers Christmas trade. The Chocolate Box in Llantwit Major, owned by the most remarkable lady Elaine Smith, is a fine example of this.

“Whether a royalist or not, the King’s coronation stood out as a high point. The feelgood factor and happy spirit among customers was great, and the celebrations in the fabulous window displays brought a lot of togetherness and smiles to a lot of faces.

“The signs are that Christmas trade was very good. No repeat doom and gloom caused by last year’s postal strikes in the run up to Christmas. Lastly, the continuous stream of new products from the companies I represent, so important for our customers, was so impressive, all helping to keep the tills ringing.”

Your Catchphrase for 2024: “It would have to be ‘I have a cunning plan’, from Blackadder which I know isn’t a game show, but it sums up how I plan to continue to show all my customers the best greeting cards and gifts in the industry to ensure we all to have a successful 2024.”

Fingers on buzzers: “I would have to be on Family Fortunes.”

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