Feeling the love

Positive Valentine’s Day sales make indie retailers’ hearts flutter

The love has definitely been felt across the greetings retail world with Valentine’s Day sales making hearts flutter for the majority of indies.

And humour seemed key with a very happy Cards & Gifts Dronfield co-owner Carl Dunne explaining: “We were able to deliver as we had a fair few from Dean Morris and each day we were trading up by at least 50% – we had a fantastic week of Valentines.”

Sales were helped by the closure of the Clintons store just two doors away, and Carl saw a huge 120% increase on the gifting side for Sarunds loose chocolates as well as the personalised Toblerone bars and those from Cadbury’s with Valentine messages.

Above & top: Aga Marsden jumped for joy at great Valentine’s sales and loves Dandelion’s designs
Above & top: Aga Marsden jumped for joy at great Valentine’s sales and loves Dandelion’s designs (Pic credit: Keith Davidson)

The big love event was a positive surprise for Aga Marsden, co-owner at Highworth Emporium, who admitted: “as always it was a last-minute, only a few days thing but it took us by surprise. It always helps when Valentine’s Day falls later in a week. We were 17% up on cards sales and general trade was up as well.

Dandelion Stationery’s Valentine’s cards are my absolute favourite, especially the one with the dog. We printed it as a poster this year and had it in the window, which brought lots of customers in.”

Above: House of Cards Woodleigh window, and bestsellers from Lucilla Lavender, Bold & Bright, and Wendy Jones-Blackett
Above: House of Cards Woodley window, and bestsellers from Lucilla Lavender, Bold & Bright, and Wendy Jones-Blackett

The past three weeks’ sales saw close to a double-digit increase at House of Cards seven Home Counties’ stores with bestsellers from Lucilla Lavender, Wendy Jones-Blackett, Bold & Bright, Paper Shed and Tache, and co-owner Nigel Williamson added: “We had a good Valentine’s season and we hope the next couple of years will improve further as the event falls on a more romantic day.”

Above: Citrus Bunn’s puns (left) went down well at Cards And Gift Wrap, and Mantons had few Valentines left
Above: Citrus Bunn’s puns (left) went down well at Cards And Gift Wrap, and Mantons had few Valentines left

On the Isle Of Man, Mantons Cards owner Chris Beards had a short but sweet verdict: “We had a fantastic Valentine’s with just a handful of returns left on the 15th,” while another island dweller, Janet Ross-Jordan, of Cards And Gift Wrap on the Isle Of Lewis, found sales down on previous years, “but cards that did sell were funny ones and the favourites were the music pun ones from Citrus Bunn”.

“We felt huge amounts of love in Hugs & Kisses this year!” laughed owner Caroline Ranwell at her Tettenhall store, where the bestsellers were from, Wendy Jones-Blackett, Five Dollar Shake, Rosie Made a Thing, Woodmansterne and Paperlink.

She said: “As always Valentines is so very last minute but this year trade was slightly better than last year. We were asked for a lot more captions, ie Fiancé, Fiancée, Mummy and Daddy. Wife and husband sold really well – we almost sold out – and larger cards did really well too.

Above: Caroline Ranwell’s husband Jon sent her two cards this year, she laughed: “One wasn’t from my shop but you can see why he bought it! It did make me laugh.”
Above: Caroline Ranwell’s husband Jon sent her two cards this year, she laughed: “One wasn’t from my shop but you can see why he bought it! It did make me laugh.”

There was a really strong start to the season of love at Milford Cards & Gifts where co-owner Kayleigh Hisim put her card selection out a week earlier giving five weeks on display, and a 25% increase on last year despite sales on the actual day being lower.

“We don’t hold out a lot of hope for Valentine’s Day,” Kayleigh explained, “due to our customer base being predominantly elderly. However, we were presently surprised and love was definitely in the air this year. Some people even buying up to three cards….who are we to judge!

“We found our humour selection went down very well with some people buying one sentimental card and one humour card.”

Above: An early start saw surprising sales at Milford Cards & Gifts
Above: An early start saw surprising sales at Milford Cards & Gifts

Love was not only in the air at Pencil Me In but also prominently in the window where the team created a 3D display using the junk pencils from owner Sarah Holmes’ pencil-printing business

Sarah commented: “We expanded our card section this year as we have a new seasonal corner in the shop. Monday, Tuesday and Valentine’s Day itself were very busy and up on the last few years. The Saturday before we’d expected big sales but the Scotland rugby game seemed to suck our customers away! The midweek made up for it, now on to Mother’s Day!”

Above: Pencil Me In pencilled in some love in the window
Above: Pencil Me In pencilled in some love in the window

And Mother’s Day looming in just a couple of weeks on 10 March has given Yvonne Russell-Jones a great idea at Fire & File in Llandidloes as she’s reinvented her enormous pink heart window display: “Did I just turn it around and put mum on the other side? Yes, yes I did!”

She’s also asking people in the Welsh town: “If anyone can make use of a giant pink heart….maybe for your carnival lorry or a prop for a play? Please let me know, it’s all yours after Mother’s Day.”

Above: Love hearts count double at Fire & File
Above: Love hearts count double at Fire & File

Staying in Wales, Sandra Jervis at Lampeter’s Creative Cove explained how the 25 January celebration of Santas Dwynwen, the country’s patron saint of lovers, makes the 14 February big day “a tricky card season”, so she took a conscious decision to limit the number of cards saying Valentine’s Day or similar.

Sandra explained: “We went with cards that were love cards – funny ones and sentimental though definitely not wordy, I don’t do wordy! And it seemed to work a treat as we sold more than any year previously.

“Our most sought-after card was Cath Tate‘s ‘I love you very mush!’ with The Art File‘s ‘There’s so mushroom in my heart for you’ coming in second place – mushrooms for the win!

“We had very strong sales from Ohh Deer and Penguin Ink. Ken the cat and blank animal cards were suiting people this year. My hubby snuck in late at night and nabbed me an amusing Redback Card ‘There’s no one I’d rather sit in silence & stare at my phone with’ – highly appropriate!”

Above: Welsh lovers have Santas Dwynwen and Valentine’s Day
Above: Creative Cover showed Welsh lovers have Santas Dwynwen and Valentine’s Day

At Edinburgh’s Paper Tiger, owner Michael Apter went full on with the kiss a frog theme leading on from his Morningside shop window display of a poster provided by publisher Ohh Deer.

“Like for like sales were well ahead of last year,” Michael said. “Valentine’s Day was also a hit online and in Morningside, where we’re enjoying our first spring season in our new shop. There was a definite move towards cards with a proper Valentine message and a bit of humour.”

Above: A full-on frog theme hit Paper Tiger’s Morningside store
Above: A full-on frog theme hit Paper Tiger’s Morningside store

Around Elgin, JP Pozzi and Bijou’s co-owner David Robertson saw all his stores trading up on the days leading into Valentine’s and for the week itself, with “sales bolstered by the brilliant Jellycat Valentine characters that were picked up by young and old”.

And David added: “With companies cutting back on spring seasons either in choice or by supplying in threes we mixed in both new small publisher content and carry-over stock reduced and this resulted in some good sell through. Sometimes a slight adjustment on price or placement is all it needs to move stock through.

Above: Cards for and from the dog add to the display at David Robertson’s house
Above: Cards for and from the dog add to the display at David Robertson’s house

“My wife and I always try to give one another cards I don’t sell but sometimes that’s not possible! My personal fave was the Counting Stars card my wife gave me which is because we are always sending one another dog videos on TikTok – I do stock the wonderful Counting Stars and Five Dollar Shake but this one would have been too niche for me – she customised it by saying ‘We follow’!”

It was a great start to spring seasons for Sally Matson at Red Card in Petworth: “We definitely felt the love at this year – our biggest Valentine’s Day card sales yet!

“Most popular was the dishwasher design from Ohh Deer featured in the window – I’m sure we could have sold 100 of those, it’s obviously very much a thing in relationships. The beautiful Bear designs from The Art File were also very popular.”

Above: Dishwasher etiquette is no reason to fall out of love at Red Card
Above: Dishwasher etiquette is no reason to fall out of love at Red Card

And there was a positive season of love at Wishes Of Cudworth where owner Julia Keeling said: “We had a bit of a boost over the weekend before and up to the day.

“We always sell well on cards by Cardigan Cards and Words ’N’ Wishes. This year we had some funny ones by Emotional Rescue that sold well and a dog one that was popular from Abacus Cards.

“We’re hopeful that, as the sun starts to shine more, people will be more positive about this year and shop local and support their High Street.”

Above: Abacus’ dog card proved popular at Wishes
Above: Abacus’ dog card proved popular at Wishes
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