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Retas finalists’ right royal celebrations

Retailers are all Van Gogh-ing to London for fab awards ceremony


Woohoo! That’s the gist of the reactions to The Retas Awards 2023 finalists, with greeting card retailers over the moon at the news, and they couldn’t wait to tell all about their right royal celebrations to PG Buzz.

Above: Austin & Co will be Van Gogh-ing to London for the ceremony
Above: Austin & Co will be Van Gogh-ing to London for the ceremony

“Well knock me down with a feather, we’ve only gone and done it again!” Sean Austin, of Malvern’s Austin & Co, exclaimed. “We’re up for two awards, the Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer In The Midlands and the Greeting Card Retailer Initiative for Nessa’s Annual Christmas Dog Food Collection.

“The winners will be announced at a lavish Van Gogh-themed awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 6 July. Am I Van Gogh-ing? You betcha! I’m off to Google Sunflowers bow tie…”

And Sally Matson at Red Card in Petworth was all dressed up for the coronation when she recorded the video below saying how excited she is at the news: “We’ve got over 12,000 cards in the shop at the minute, it’s really exciting because what we do is, we do cards!”

Numbers were on Jo Barber’s mind too after No14 Ampthill’s nomination in the Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer Of Greetings Cards: “We’re chuffed to bits. The category we’re in is because we’re predominately a gift shop, with cards considered a smaller part of our offering but, in truth, where would we be without our cards? They’re my most favourite part of the shop and last year we sold over 34,500!”

Above: Kingfisher Cards’ Tiffany Leach is very excited
Above: Kingfisher Cards’ Tiffany Leach is very excited

Current Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer South West title holder Tiffany Leach, at Kingfisher Cards in Sidmouth, crowed: “My oh my! We’ve made it again, that’s unbelievable, and to say we’re so excited is an understatement.

“What an achievement – never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d be nominated again! To hold on to the trophy for a second year would be just so awesome. Thank you for this wonderful news. Woohoo! The girls are chuffed to bits. I hope I don’t get too excited, drunk and cut my ear off beforehand, ha ha ha!”

Above: Penny Bailey and staff members Sarah and Chris love the confidence boost
Above: Penny Bailey and staff members Sarah and Chris love the confidence boost

For Penny Bailey, at Bailey’s in Ainsdale, Crosby and Maghull, she admits running three shops is a challenge so The Retas news has proved a boost.

“I feel like I’ve just had my head down recently, doing all I can to keep them running well,” Penny told PG Buzz. “So, to look up for a moment and realise people have seen something worth nominating for a Retas award has put one big smile on my face.

“For suppliers, who visit dozens of shops in our area, to take the time to nominate us is very special. Although we’re fortunate to have been in this position before, it’s never taken for granted and really does give me a boost in confidence that I’m doing something right.

“I went down to our Ainsdale shop to share the news. Sarah and Chris were there, throwing themselves into the coronation celebrations, so we had double the reason to celebrate and a customer took a quick snap.”

Heidi and Dom Early got their paw-fect pooch in on the video action, which can be seen above, to celebrate Earlybird Designs’ nomination for its Stoke Newington store – and they’re wondering if the Grosvenor House Hotel will cater for dogs on the day.

“I’m feeling like a queen,” Heidi said, “so so so chuffed! We’re among stiff competition so we’re absolutely honoured to be considered for the Best Independent Card retailer In London award again!

We were hugely privileged to win the accolade in 2021 and then reach the finals last year too, so we are beyond happy to be a finalist again!

“Thank you so much to all our amazing customers, you make us and keep us striving to do better we hope we do you proud, and thank you to our amazing Team EB, we’re so proud of you all, and couldn’t do this without you.”

Above: Heidi Early required a crown at Earlybird Designs
Above: Heidi Early required a crown at Earlybird Designs

At Loveone in Ipswich, Cathy Frost commented: “How exciting! Being shortlisted for The Retas is very exciting. It’s great to be recognised by the industry for good practice, and a testament to the many talented artists and card designers who help to make my business a real experience to visit.”

Kaye Thurgood, from Sincerely Yours in Shenfield and Hornchurch, said: “We’re over the moon to announce we are finalists in this year’s Retas awards for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer in East Anglia. We couldn’t do it without our amazing SY team and our wonderful customers!”

And in Tettenhall, Hugs & Kisses’ Caroline Ranwell added: “I’m absolutely over the moon to find out that Hugs & Kisses is again a finalist in this year’s Retas awards! The Retas are like the Oscars of the greeting card industry, so it’s a real honour to be up there again among the best in the business.

“The biggest thank you to my fabulous team and of course our wonderful customers as without them this would not be possible – London here we come!”

Above & top: Wishes’ Fiona and Victoria were celebrating like queens
Above & top: Wishes’ Fiona and Victoria were celebrating like queens

As if the Coronation wasn’t reason enough, Victoria Robinson and her mum and business partner Fiona said they were “celebrating like queens” over the weekend

And Victoria added: “The Retas are the Oscars of the greeting card world, our world, and to be nominated by others in our industry is the ultimate accolade – as a team we’re over the moon to be finalists.

“We were finalists and went on to win this award back in 2017. To be recognised for a second time is just amazing and we’re so incredibly proud.

The award ceremony takes place in London in July, it’s a fantastic day filled with fellow cardies from all over the country celebrating the best of our industry. We’re extremely excited to attend.”

Above: Sarah Laker is blown away by Stationery Supplies’ nomination
Above: Sarah Laker is blown away by Stationery Supplies’ nomination

“There’s a quote I love by SC Lourie, and I’m not one for quotes usually,” commented Sarah Laker, of Stationery Supplies in Marple and Wilmslow. “Some days I am a goddess. Some days I am a wild child. And some days I am a fragile mess. Most days I am a bit of all three. But every day, I am here, trying.

“And it came to mind when I found out I’d been both nominated for and shortlisted in two categories for The Retas awards, the Oscars of the greeting card industry. I’m a mixture of delight and unbelief, and close to tears.

“Thank you to those of you in the greeting card industry that nominated me, I know of seven of you so far which is just, well, unbelievable. I’m totally blown away. It honestly means so much.

“Massive congratulations to all shortlisted businesses, regardless of who wins, we’re all champions in my eyes. And lastly, thank you to my staff, without you none of this would be possible.

“I honestly can’t believe that I’ve been shortlisted for the third year running, and in two categories. I’m really blown away that so many people in the industry nominated me. My phone went wild after the PGBuzz email with congratulations, then again when I posted on socials.”

Above & top: Cards ’N’ Things Paul and Helen celebrated with Abacus Cards rep Neil Harradine
Above & top: Cards ’N’ Things Paul and Helen celebrated with Abacus Cards rep Neil Harradine

Husband and wife team Paul and Helen Southgate put a bit of fizz into their celebrations at Cards ’N’ Things in Norwich – although it was only a window prop, but they’re hoping to need the real thing on the awards night.

“That’s amazing,” Helen exclaimed. “This has put a big smile on our faces, it’s such an honour to be selected as finalists and we want to say a big thank you to whoever nominated us for an award.

“There are so many amazing independent card shops working so hard to bring great product and personal customer service, it’s a huge honour to be put forward as a finalist. We love our work and friends from other stores and are thankful for amazing artists, reps and companies that supply us.”

Above: Angela, Sarah and Lynne got all dressed up to party at Stationery House
Above: Angela, Sarah and Lynne got all dressed up to party at Stationery House

In Somerton, Stationery House owner Malcolm Adams said: “We were so thrilled to get the news we have got through to the finals, that the girls, Angela Billing, Sarah Musk and Lynne Brown got dressed up! “

And Sarah Corbett, at Something Special in Kingswinford, added: “This is fantastic news, and we’re so excited to be Retas finalists again this year.”

Above: Van Gogh is the theme for the 6 July awards extravaganza
Above: Van Gogh is the theme for the 6 July awards extravaganza

The full list of nominees can be found here, and all The Retas 2023 winners will be announced at the Van Gogh-themed afternoon extravaganza on Thursday, 6 July, at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, during an event attended by over 400 members of the greeting card community, with a strong roster of sponsors ready to hand out the trophies.

The Retas 2023 sponsors include AfroTouch Design, The Art File, Belly Button Designs, Carte Blanche Greetings, Cath Tate Cards, Danilo, GBCC, Hallmark, Ling Design, Lucilla Lavender, Meraki, Museums & Galleries, Ohh Deer, Paperlink, Paper Salad, Pigment, Progressive Greetings Live, Rosie Made A Thing, Sensations/Express Yourself, Spring Fair/Autumn Fair, UK Greetings, Wendy Jones-Blackett, W Select, and Woodmansterne Publications.

To be among the UK’s best greeting card retailers as well as some great card publishers, book your ticket online via or contact The Retas’ awards manager Clare Hollick, director of Createvents, on 0118 334 0085 or email

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