Becky Abbiss is the owner of With Love, the Leeds’ surburb of Oakwood. Here she shares what she’s been up to since the physical shop was forced to close a few weeks ago, including Facetime shopping and personalised card services for customers.
“It was tough closing the shop down (albeit temporarily). I decided to bring home greeting cards for every occasion as well as lots of products home that are easily postable.
I’ve contacted a lot of my customers personally but also via Instagram and Facebook to update them on our home shopping option.
In actual fact Facetime shopping is a service I’ve been running for a couple of years with a few customers who struggle to get into the shop due to work commitments. It’s like the customer having their own personal shopper. I introduced it to adapt to my customers’ needs and move with the times.
Likewise, a few years ago, when sales were dropping and shopping styles were changing, I recognised I needed to encourage customers to return so introduced personalised cards, which has proved very popular. We handwrite a personal message on the front of cards for customers with designs from Elspeth Thomson, Janie Wilson, Wendy Jones-Blackett Feather, Blue Eyed Sun and Laura Sherratt. We are continuing to offer this service during the ‘shutdown’.
I’ve been working on a website for a few months but now is the opportunity to go full throttle into that, along with stock taking all my Christmas and Spring ranges that I keep in our garage.
The suppliers have been great, very supportive. Some have offered longer terms, others to just to pay smaller amounts each month. I’m trying to keep everyone happy and informed of my forward plan, then we all know where we stand. Communication is key during this time.
I’ve contacted everyone I think to stop all our direct debits and standing orders until service resumes in full. I’ve written to our landlords to ask for a rent reduction until end of May, to be reviewed as and when appropriate and am just awaiting their reply.
These are unusual and unknown times, but so far everyone, including our customers, has been very supportive. I wish everyone luck and to keep safe. I believe we’ll all come back refreshed, stronger and with great ideas on how to reinvent our businesses.”
Here, Becky reveals some the current ranges and products that really stand out for her and chime with the tastes of her customers….
Across The Board from Blue Eyed Sun
“There are so many gorgeous ranges it’s hard to choose my favourite. The publisher is very strong on anniversary and wedding cards.”
General from Mark Sofilas Art
“Mark is an artist who specialises in landscape style oil paintings, which he then prints onto cards. Our customers love the bright and colourful aspect of his work, plus the local images.”
Gin & Frolics from Rosie Made A Thing
“A great observational humour range, we really struggle to keep these in stock. It’s absolutely hilarious and on point and customers were buying 3-4 cards at a time. I’d be rich if I could charge for reading/laughing rights in our humour section!”
Jumbo Jamboree Age Cards from Paper Salad
“A great mid-size range of cards (180mm square). The designs are bright and vibrant with lovely foiling. They’re a great price for a larger card and the retail price seems to suit our customer base.”
Contemporary and embroidered cards from Elspeth Thomson
“As we offer a free personalised/bespoke writing service on cards we’ve found that Elspeth’s cards are perfect for that job – plus they are such a lovely husband and wife team to work with.”
Shiny & Bright from Angela Faulkner
“A fun, bright, colourful and cheery card range for children, with lots of coloured foiling and embossing.”
Flat wrap from Kali Stileman
“Some great bright and cheerful designs. Our favourites are the children’s designs and it only retails at £1.75 per sheet.”
Rollwrap and bags from Glick and Belly Button
“Both wrap publishers are great staples for us with their on trend designs. Glick’s gift bags are at great prices and the company licences designs from publishers whose cards we stock (eg Wendy Jones- Blackett, Paper Salad, Stephanie Dyment).”
Metalmorphose Keyrings from Oli Olsen
“The alphabet and male keyrings have been a big success and retail under £9.99.”
Local Dialect gift range from Dialectables
“The company’s Yorkshire mugs and gift ranges go down a treat with our customers; they just love them!”
Top: With Love, Oakwood is always full of treasures.