Dragons in training

Retailer viewpoints from Cardzone, Lark and Austin & Co after recent GCA event

 

The recent GCA Dragons Speed-Dating event was a major triumph for all in the den with the 20 retail dragons all fired by the 72 publishers who showed off their ranges via a series of fast-paced pitches.

PG Buzz chased up some of the dragons to find out more about their experiences in the Den and what delights caught their beady eyes…today we feature Cardzone, Lark and Austin & Co.

Paul Taylor, managing director of Cardzone, 180+ stores

The Dragon experience: “I really enjoyed being a dragon. It was so great to see over 70 publishers large, small and the recently set up all having the chance to present their products to a wide choice of buyers. As well as being able to see so much great products, it was also so interesting to hear all about their respective businesses.”

Den delights: “We will most definitely trialling some of the ranges I saw at the Dragons event in our stores post Easter.”

Above: Paul Taylor (bottom left) enjoying the pitch from Paper Salad’s Karen Wilson
Above: Paul Taylor (bottom left) enjoying the pitch from Paper Salad’s Karen Wilson

Priya Aurora-Crowe, co-owner of Lark, nine shops in London

The Dragon experience: “I really enjoyed being a Dragon, sitting alongside some of the national retailers that I have always looked up to. It was so valuable to meet lots of new publishers and see the quality of the products they are creating. Looking on the internet just isn’t the same as you cannot appreciate the board, the finishes or get a feel of the people behind the brands. The fast-paced nature of the event allowed us to see numerous new brands in a concise amount of time.”

Den delights: “We will be placing many orders as a result of the event with both new and existing suppliers. As well some of those I met, from the sample in my bag Gentangle Designs’ cards really caught my eye as they have created localised card designs of areas in which we have shops. As a result, I will be stocking the cards in all our stores.”

Above: Priya (left) listening intently, and cards from Gentangle Designs
Above: Priya (left) listening intently, and cards from Gentangle Designs

Sean Austin, owner of Austin & Co, Malvern

The Dragon experience: “The event was a refreshing format to meet card publishers. As much as I love a trade show, it was great to hear all about their backgrounds in a concise format, and the opportunity to maybe ask some questions you’d normally dare not ask but they’d be expecting from a dragon. Everything was constructive – it was too nice an atmosphere to be negative about anything –and I feel both sides went away with a few industry nuggets they may not have been aware of previously. I’d recommend being a dragon to anyone in retail. Normally, my 11 years of card-buying experience is bottled up or only shared with a few other retailers. It felt so good to pass on my experience of what works and doesn’t in card retail, and it’s great that the event taps into that knowledge base.”

Above: (from left) Sean Austin with Anita Thorpe of Diverse and Tim Reynolds of Medici Gallery, and a design from Natalie Alex’s new Fairytales card range
Above: (from left) Sean Austin with Anita Thorpe of Diverse and Tim Reynolds of Medici Gallery, and a design from Natalie Alex’s new Fairytales card range

Den delights: “Publishers that caught my eye at the event were Laura Niles, Cake & Crayons, Jen Winnett, Natalie Alex Designs and Purpose & Worth. I’m still making my way through the goody bag of samples from all the participating publishers and have made a note of a fair few that would not have been on my card radar previously.”

Top: Retailers ready for the GCA Dragons Speed-Dating event

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