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Pooches are im-paw-tant

Indies Cardies and Austin & Co battle it out as Dog-Friendly Awards finalists


Lots of greeting retailers love pooches but two that go the extra paw are Cardies and Austin & Co who have just been named as finalists in the Dog-Friendly Awards shops category – again!

Both Jo Sorrell, owner of Cardies in Stevenage, and Malvern-based Austin & Co’s Sean Austin have lifted the trophy before and they’re now competing for the 2022 title, with Aylesbury’s Friars Square Shopping Centre as the third finalist.

Above: Dog lovers Sean Austin and Jo Sorrell, with husband Andy
Above: Dog lovers Sean Austin and Jo Sorrell, with husband Andy

And they’ll all be on tenterhooks until 7 December when the winner of the most UK’s dog-friendly shop will be announced at The Kennel Club in London, along with the top outlets in the other 14 categories.

With Cards.Stationery.Dog. as the store’s tagline, Sean and his much-loved late pet Nessa have no less than five titles under their belts, and he’s hoping his four-legged bestie, Lucy the Labrador, will help make it a sixth.

“We’re delighted that Austin & Co is one of the finalists – and thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for us and get us to this point,” Sean said. “It’ll be Lucy’s first if we make it.

Above: The late Nessa with a previous Most Dog-Friendly Shop award and showing off the store’s Cards, Stationery, Dog tagline
Above: The late Nessa with a previous Most Dog-Friendly Shop award and showing off the store’s Cards.Stationery.Dog. tagline

“I was always told to sell what I love, because you’d love what you sell. Stationery has always been a major purchase for me from an early age and I was also able to bring a high level of knowledge to what I sold.

“I think we stand out for our USP and tagline – Cards. Stationery. Dog. I know many card shops go down the route of candles, jewellery, and scarves as their gift offer but, frankly, I know nothing about any of those sectors, even at home! Dog I know and that’s what customers know me for, even those customers who insist I should stock more cat items, but then I lose my USP!

Above: The lovely Lucy is hoping for a sixth win
Above: The lovely Lucy is hoping for a sixth win

“We’ve always been known as a dog-friendly shop. But accidents can happen so, just in case, a mop and bucket are kept close by. In 11 years, I’ve had to use it twice – for children.”

Over in Stevenage, Jo has made Cardies a dog-friendly shop since she opened the doors way back in 1988, with her Labrador Poppy meeting and greeting on the first day at just 12 weeks old, and she continued those duties for 16 years.

Since then Jo has had a further five Labrador meeters and greeters helping in the shop, all rescue Labs – sisters Sandy and Sophie at five years old, Jack at two and Daisy at eight, and she now has Orberry, adopted at just a year old.

Jo told PG Buzz: “We’re absolutely doggy delighted to be finalists in the Dog Friendly awards – we’ve been finalists twice before and have been very lucky to have won twice. Being a dog-friendly shop is very important to us. How lucky are we to be able to combine our love of dogs with our love of cards, a perfect match!”

Above: The Ponks in full social media action
Above: The Ponks in full social media action

Jo has four Labradors living with her currently, Bella, Big Ben, Orberry and Little Ted, and has given them the collective name of The Ponks, and they often feature in her social media posts, as well as at the store.

She added: “Over the years we’ve been owned by 14 amazing Labradors and have fostered and rehomed hundreds of Labradors with Labrador Rescue South East & Central. Recently, we’ve also tried to help collect supplies to be sent out to the dogs in Ukraine in conjunction with AMA Dog Rescue – as most dog lovers would say, if we could help them all, we would.

“Unsurprisingly, we always enjoy choosing cards that have dogs on. Some of our favourite ranges at the moment are Dotty Dog Art, Raspberry Blossom and, of course, our own exclusive range of Ponk cards.”

Top: Paw-fect reasons why Cardies and Austin & Co are very dog-friendly

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