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Cards ’N’ Things marks four-decade milestone

Norfolk indie retailer celebrates family legacy with giveaways and prizes


Celebration is a major part of the greeting card industry and it’s not all hatches, matches and dispatches – there are big anniversaries to mark with companies too.

There are always celebrators within the business so PG has been checking in with various businesses across the greetings world to share some of the significant moments in their evolution as well as plans to mark the milestone.

Continuing this series we visit Cards ’N’ Things in Hellesdon where Paul and Helen Southgate  are continuing the family retail legacy that was started by his parents David and Ruth…

Above & top: Paul and Helen with David and Ruth – and Boris! – in the shop as it is today
Above & top: Paul and Helen with David and Ruth – and Boris! – in the shop as it is today

Potted history: “It actually all started back in 1975 when my parents David and Ruth Southgate decided to close their building firm and start something completely different – a shop selling toys and gifts called Hellesdon Toy & Gift Centre!

“It was a very popular shop, but was very hard to manage with the amount of stock.  As the years went on the small greetings section within the shop got larger and larger, and they decided it was time for a change of direction and to focus more on cards with a small selection of gifts and partyware. “Over a family dinner we had a discussion and in 1984 the business Cards ’N’ Things was started.”

Above: The early days
Above: The early days

Significant moments: “In 1995 I joined mum and dad in the business from college and started to learn the ropes. In 2004, drawing on Dad’s building experience, we undertook our first significant refit with all the family helping.

“In 2012 Helen and I took over the running of the business although, initially, she was still very much involved in our other catering business – then came 2020 and lockdown!

“We decided it was time to focus on one business so Helen came into the card shop full time. We made use of the three months’ lockdown to completely refit, rebrand and update the shop again.

“The shop has such a loyal customer base with customers traveling to the shop from surrounding towns as they know they will always find the right card and gift.

“We’ve expanded by adding some lovely gift lines that complement our wide selection of greeting cards, and we work hard on our social media which has really helped reach more customers.

“We’ve also invested in solar panels to cut down on our impact on the environment and it’s great to see card companies doing the same by reducing plastic and looking at alternatives.”

Above: The contemporary fascia of the shop
Above: The contemporary fascia of the shop

Fave designs: “In the early years, the business went from strength to strength as the choice of greeting card ranges grew. The popularity of cute brands Forever Friends and Country Companions and then later Carte Blanche’s Me To You made a major contribution to our business. Nowadays there’s such an incredible array of ranges with the brilliant publishers and designers keeping everything fresh.”

Above: Paul, David and Ruth with Tatty Teddy
Above: Paul, David and Ruth with Tatty Teddy

Marking the milestone: “We’re going to plan a special day at the shop to celebrate its 40 years, with plenty of giveaways and prizes throughout the year.”

The next chapter: “It’s now 40 years since the shop opened and, while we’ve seen certain ranges and phases come and go, we see no decline in the popularity of sending cards with people recognising the power of this kind gesture.

“We’re so grateful for the hard work Mum and Dad put into the shop in the early years as they built the reputation for great customer service and quality of range that we like to believe we’re continuing.

“It really is such a lovely industry of which to be a part. Here’s to the next four decades!”

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