In less than a week, the winners of The Retas greeting card retailer awards will have been announced (July 10), but last month it was the new product launches at PG Live that were being hailed as ‘winners’ by so many of the UK’s leading retailers. Here a trio of Retas finalists – Penny Bailey of Bailey’s (in Ainsdale and Crosby), Sarah Barrington of Blue Dog Trading (in Clare) and Georgina Black of Pretty Shiny Shop (London’s Stroud Green) – reveal what they felt were the cream of the crop at the show.
Penny Bailey, co-owner of Bailey’s in Ainsdale and Crosby, whose shops have reached The Retas finals in the Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – North and Northern Ireland category:
“Simon Bailey, co-owner and I had a great day at PG Live. It doesn’t feel like work, more like a good day out with a bit of shopping, a nice lunch and a couple of drinks to round off the day!
A great show. Thank you to Louise Tiler and Tache for their hospitality and, of course, to PG for organising another successful event.”
Penny and Simon’s top picks: “We spent our Golden Ticket with Stripey Cats. The cards’ bright colours, striking yet simple designs and wobbly eyes caught our attention as soon as we arrived at PG Live. We walked the whole of the rest of the show but ended up back there with the ticket still burning a hole in our pocket.
Our Sunshine Ticket was spent with Meraki on its Nixie alphabet range. Our customers are loving initialled gifts so we thought we’d add some cards to the mix. They come on their own counter-top stand so I don’t have to think too hard how to display them or displace any other ranges from my card racks. Despite our much bigger second shop, that is always a problem… so many fabulous cards, never enough space!
We also ordered Hallmark’s new ‘I used to be a coffee cup’ range; refreshed our range of the gorgeous Toasted Crumpet cards; and have got our eye on Lucy Driver Illustrations (from the Springboard area) for when I can find her some pockets.”
Sarah Barrington, owner of Blue Dog Trading, Clare Suffolk whose shop is in The Retas finals in the Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – East Anglia category:
“I particularly enjoyed the show this year as there was a very positive atmosphere. I always enjoy PG Live as I like having the chance to focus on just cards at a dedicated show. Greeting cards are incredibly important to my business but I have a lot of categories to buy for and at the other shows it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fail to give the card section the time it deserves.
As a Retas finalist I had my Sunshine ticket to spend and I was invited to enjoy the champagne reception for the finalists. I usually go to trade shows alone, so it was a nice opportunity to mingle and meet a few people in the industry, including other card buyers.”
Sarah’s top picks: “I saw lots of things that caught my eye, both from existing suppliers (it’s so great when an existing supplier comes up with something new and exciting) as well as from several new companies that I plan to follow up with.
Existing suppliers that I will be reordering from soon included Paper Salad (the colours are always so mouth-wateringly fresh and bright), Kiss Me Quick (humour is a great seller for us so good to see some new laughs to be had) and Rosie Made A Thing (just keeps getting better and better as the range grows).
New companies I’m going to follow up on included Stormy Knight (I’ve been watching this company for a while and its range seems to have grown to the point where I feel there is enough to sustain a series of orders), Earlybird (some great children’s cards and vibrant giftwrap) and, in the Springboard section, Erlenmeyer with the most beautifully illustrated cards and playing card packs. Also in Springboard I was impressed by Hannah Marchant’s plantable seed cards which seem to be the ultimate in green greetings – you actually plant the (recycled) card and watch wildflowers, herbs or vegetables grow.
I decided to spend my Sunshine Ticket with Cinnamon Aitch who is one of my longest standing card suppliers. Its products are lovely, the portfolio is always growing and changing, and just as importantly the company is always so professional and a real pleasure to deal with.”
Georgina Black, owner of Pretty Shiny Shop, Stroud Green, London whose shop has reached the finals of The Retas in the Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – London (inside the M25) category:
“The PG Live show has such a happy vibe and energy. It is my favorite show of the year to go to. I love that it focuses on just greeting cards – and offers a mix of large publishers, established independents and new starters.
When I attend PG Live I don’t feel rushed. I loved the coffee and tea trollies going around which adds to the feeling that you are being hosted and should just relax and enjoy the day and take the time to get to know some of these fabulous designers.
I also love that there is a sponsored free lunch for both buyers and suppliers so everyone feels treated, as well as that there is a networking drinks event at the end of the first day.”
Georgina’s top picks: “I started my Christmas card shopping with The Art File as well as spending my Sunshine Ticket with the company, ordering from its new design offerings as they are my ‘go to’ for Christmas cards.
I found and fell is love with Natalie Alex Designs, Emily McDowell (cards and gifts from Abrams & Chronicle) as well as Lucy Alice designs. Lagom Designs had some stunning wrapping paper as well as cards, and 1 Tree Cards had a great concept – but I need to make room on the shelves first before I can bring in anyone else new!”
To see the list of all the finalists of The Retas 2019 go to http://www.theretasawards.co.uk/finalists2019/
The Retas greeting card retailing awards event takes place on Wednesday 10 July at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London that will be attended by over 400 retailers, publishers and suppliers. There are a few tickets still available, but be quick! These can be bought either online (www.max-tickets.net) or from Clare Hollick of Keystone Communications(firstname.lastname@example.org or 01733 294524).