Miles of smiles from happy Retas’ finalists

Delighted greeting card retailers get set for July 7 awards event

 

The whoops of joy continue as Retas finalists have been revealing their delight at the news they’re in the running for one of the Oscars of the greeting card retail world.

Following the announcement of all Retas finalists a week ago Greg Rose, who co-owns Maybugs two stores – soon to be three – on the south coast with John Dale, yelled: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! It’s just amazing to get our very first Retas nomination. Just to be recognised at such a high standard, and alongside some of the retailers we look up to, is an absolute honour. All of Team Bug are delighted and we can’t wait for the ceremony in July!”

Above: Maybugs’ Eastbourne team are thrilled
Above: Maybugs’ Eastbourne team are thrilled

All the finalists in the 19 categories were announced on 22 May, and The Retas 2022 winners will be revealed at a wonderful afternoon event featuring a Mary Poppins-esque theme on Thursday, 7 July, in the Ballroom of the Grosvenor House Hotel, opposite Hyde Park in London.

At Highfield Garden World, where cards are described as “a vital department”, director/general manager Tim Armstrong told PG Buzz of his delight: “Moving the card department to the front of the store so that all customers would flow straight into this department has proved the right decision. We’ve been delighted with the upturn in sales which has resulted in a sales increase of around 25% which in the current climate is excellent.”

Stationery Supplies Marple and Wilmslow owner Sarah Laker was thrilled when she read the email during Sunday lunch: “Then my friend messaged and said congrats on being a finalist in two categories – I was like ‘whaaaatttt?!’ Read the email again. Totally gobsmacked. What a practically perfect way to end my favourite week of the year National Stationery Week. And a great excuse for a new frock!”

Above: Sarah Laker is set to go frock shopping
Above: Sarah Laker is set to go frock shopping

And Grant Petley, of Paper Gangsta in Bristol, cheered: “Thank you! The nomination is the perfect way to top off our 10th anniversary – woo hoo!”, while Anita Thorpe, owner of Brixton-based Diverse Gifts, said: “This came as a complete surprise! We’re really pleased to be nominated again and hope it’s second time lucky. Thank you to everyone who nominated us.”

Philip and Maxine Nield, owners of Reflections in Rugeley and Nantwich, said: “We were delighted to learn we’d been nominated for 2022! Since we opened after lockdown just over a year ago, we have traded fairly well, especially at Christmas 2021. So far this year we have had our ups and downs but remain positive.

“We continue to introduce new lines in cards and gifts and find it essential to try to keep the stores interesting for customers by not leaving the card and gift displays and particularly window displays the same for too long.”

Above: Maxine and Philip Nield are dancing with delight at Reflections
Above: Maxine and Philip Nield are dancing with delight at Reflections

It’s something of a double celebration at London’s Mooch as the retail group that’s co-owned by Evelyn O’Flaherty and Sandra O’Connell (watch video below) marked its sixth anniversary at the weekend.

Sandra told PG Buzz: “We’re overjoyed here to be a finalist – we love sourcing our cards and are a little obsessed to be honest. Our customers travel quite some distance to browse through and buy our cards and we’re especially proud of all the small independent card designers we support, this award would be as much recognition for them as it would be for us…keeping our fingers crossed!”

For Best Wishes’ owners Russell and Yvonne Payne the news was a great surprise as they had no idea their Bishop’s Waltham shop had even been nominated.

Russell said: “Wow! That’s absolutely out of the blue – it’s so pleasing our shop has been recognised in what has been an incredible year for us after such a difficult spell during the Covid lockdowns. It couldn’t be more contrasting! It’s just been amazing and this really has put the icing on the cake for us all at Best Wishes.”

Julianne Moore, director at MiMi in Hartley Wintney and Wokingham is another retailer who’s thrilled at reaching the finals. Making reference to MiMi’s shop window display, Julianne said: “The Village Gossip has it that MiMi has been nominated in the prestigious Retas Awards 2022 and the girls are over the moon. This is the second time we’ve been nominated and, with 25+ card companies within MiMi, we can bring it home. Good Luck to all nominees, see you at the awards. We’re thrilled to be nominated again for our card ranges as we have so many beautiful companies represented in this industry.”

Above: The MiMi team are over the moon
Above: The MiMi team are over the moon

Leona Janson-Smith, who co-owns the London-based Postmark group with husband Mark, said: “Wow! This is just fantastic. We’re delighted to be nominated once again for Best Small Multiple. It really means a lot to us and, win or lose, we know we’re in for another great day out at this year’s Retas.”

Meanwhile up in Liverpool and Manchester, Utility director Kate Cowie told PG Buzz: “All of us at Utility are delighted to be a finalist as part of this year’s Retas Awards. It’s a huge honour to be included as we’re passionate about sourcing and selling the best greetings cards possible for our customers. We are really looking forward to celebrating with Progressive Greetings and all of the other finalists in July.”

Above: Tasty treats for Cards N Things’ shop dog Boris
Above: Tasty treats for Cards N Things’ shop dog Boris

Shop dog Boris was delighted – and licking his lips at the prospect of a lunch in London – with the news that Cards N Things in Hellesdon, Norwich, had made the grade, and owners Helen and Paul Southgate said: “We’re so proud to be a finalist, it’s a real encouragement for our staff after a challenging couple of years, they’ve have worked so hard and been on board with all the changes we’ve made in the shop during our refit to provide such excellent customer service.”

Carl Dunne, co-owner at Cards & Gifts Dronfield, said: “Such great news, we’ve been shortlisted for the finalists for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer North – roll on July!”

A very happy shopkeeper is how Market Harborough’s In Heaven At Home owner Anne Barber described herself, and she added: “We are very, very honoured to be considered worthy. We love cards at the shop and our newest team member Henry is always happy to help you choose from our selection of over 2,500 different cards. The whole team is thrilled and Henry particularly because he knows it means we’ll have even more cards featuring dogs in the shop.

Above: Henry the dachshund with In Heaven At Home’s Anne Barber
Above: Henry the dachshund with In Heaven At Home’s Anne Barber

“That came as the most wonderful surprise at a time when our strong card business is even more important to the shop. Bizarrely, I’d spent Sunday and Monday totally remerchandising the card department – my favourite job – and so only had a brief chance to look through The Retas finalists and didn’t notice In Heaven At Home on the list! We are super thrilled as cards mean so much to us and our customers. I am shaking with happiness.”

Dee’s Cards co-owners Paul Mordecai and Hannah Rutter broke out the bubbly in Leighton Buzzard at the news – and, with the shop turning 30 years old in August, they’re keeping everything crossed.

They said: “We’re absolutely over moon that we’ve reached the finals of the Retas for the second year in a row! We know everyone in the greeting card industry has worked incredibly hard and we can’t wait to celebrate on the day. When we heard the fantastic news we were so pleased, so celebrated with a glass of bubbly… or two!

“Good luck to everyone, it’s been a difficult couple of years and there are still more hurdles to overcome. Reaching the finals is such an honour and we wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for our lovely customers, so thank you so much!”

Above: Dee’s Cards Paul and Hannah jump for joy
Above: Dee’s Cards Hannah and Paul  jump for joy

Finalist the Card Centre in Felixstowe has some extremely happy and engaged customers with a second emailing PG Buzz to extol the virtues of their favourite store – which has been in operation for 75 years. Sharon Saltmarsh explained how she grew up shopping at owner John Barratt’s store, before moving away in 2000: “John and his mum were always happy and smiling. You could ask for any card and they’d disappear into their stock room and come back with a bagful which you could tip out to sift through & find the one you wanted. Always felt like you got a personal service!

“Fast forward and we’re soon moving back – I went for a walk down Felixstowe High Street, slightly saddened to see all my old favourite shops gone and the High Street drastically changed until I reached The Card Centre! The shop looked the same, smelt the same, that lovely waxy, wrapping paper smell, and there was John still standing at the back and smiling. Sadly, his mum was no longer there but I couldn’t believe that this shop was still the same, a piece of history but still so alive.

“It was full of happy, friendly customers, the atmosphere was great, and I could still get my selection of cards to look through on the narrow wooden bench at the back. Quite simply it’s the best! “

Sue Mitchell is the card queen at The Lambing Shed in Knutsford, and she told PG Buzz: “We’re thrilled to be finalists for the Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer Of Greeting Cards. I really enjoy choosing cards to suit our customers, and love the feedback I get from them. We’ve recently extended our gift area, so we can now display our fabulous selection of cards clearly.”

Above: It’s a family affair at the Lambing Shed with owners Sue and Michael Mitchell and director daughter Kathryn
Above: It’s a family affair at the Lambing Shed with owners Sue and Michael Mitchell and director daughter Kathryn

A fourth dose of Covid has kept HBB Cards owner Hayley Bastable from celebrating too much in Newport Pagnall, but The Retas news is a great boost: “What with the challenges of a new business, and from the very start lockdowns, vaccinations and closures, this really does continue to be challenging time for me, but I remain positive and HBB is thriving!

“My customers and followers are growing and I really try hard to keep the shop looking fresh and full of lovely stock from my suppliers, I’m looking forward to PG Live as I’m on the hunt for some new stuff! This news is very, very welcome.”

Above: Retas news is a boost for HBB Cards’ Hayley Bastable
Above: Retas news is a boost for HBB Cards’ Hayley Bastable

“I’m still in shock at making it to the finals of The Retas again,” said Heidi Early, who co-owns Stoke Newington’s Earlybird with husband Dom. “What an absolute shock but so bloody chuffed! Thank you to this brilliant industry, these things really do make a difference. I’ve had numerous customers come into the shop since we won last year, making a special effort to visit us because we were award-winning! Can you believe it? It’s mega!

“And winning last year really spurred me on to continue to be the best we could be, hence getting even further involved with our community. And we haven’t stopped with new initiatives since last year – the Small Acts Of Sustainability is one of our proudest initiatives and we have to thank our amazing team member Hannah for pulling it all together. She’ll be with us at the awards ceremony this year as she deserves to be a part of it all just as much as us.”

Above: Triple cheers at Earlybird with (from left) Heidi, Dom and Hannah
Above: Triple cheers at Earlybird with (from left) Heidi, Dom and Hannah

Tickets and tables to The Retas 2022 can be bought online via www.max-tickets.net or by contacting The Retas’ awards organiser, Clare Hollick of Createvents on 0118 334 0085 or by emailing her on clare@createvents.co.uk.

The Retas 2022 already has a strong roster of sponsors, all of whom are committed to rewarding retail expertise, with more to follow. These currently include Abacus Cards, The Art File, Belly Button Designs, Carte Blanche Greetings, Cath Tate Cards, Danilo, Glick, Hallmark, Ohh Deer, Ling Design, Museums & Galleries, Nigel Quiney Publications, Paperlink, Pigment Productions, Progressive Greetings Live, Second Nature, Sensations, UK Greetings, and Woodmansterne Publications.

Top: All set to party – some of the happy Retas 2022 finalists

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