Retas finalists’ whoops of joy

Retailers cheer at hearing of 2024 awards nominations


Whoops of joy have been sounding out across the country as greeting card retailers celebrate making it into the finals of The Retas Awards 2024.

Sean Austin was so excited when he heard about the fourth nomination in a row for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – Midlands that he dashed straight from his tip run to change the noticeboard outside Austin & Co in Malvern, as can be seen in the video below.

Over in Dursley, Helen Williams is dead chuffed having just celebrated her first year running Helen’s Wishes, and the icing on the cake is a double nomination, for Best Newcomer and Best Retail Initiative.

“Wow, just wow!” she exclaimed. “Super proud of myself and, of course my fabulous team. Keeping everything crossed for the winners’ reveal in July. Huge thanks as always to my fabulous customers for all your support.”

It took Sandra Jervis a little longer to cotton on at Creative Cove in Lampeter before picking up the email, and she said: “I may have been slow to get the hit but it’s pretty amazing news – especially as I hadn’t even entered myself, having won it last year!

“Absolutely honoured that people think enough of me and what I do to have put me forward for the second year running in the Best Independent Retailer – Wales category. I am truly grateful.

“A huge thank you to all you wonderful customers who keep buying and keep coming back. And another thank you to my staff, especially when you have deliveries to unpack, stock rooms to reorganise, displays to magic up and really weird photography requests.

“Oh, I suppose Mr Cove should get a teeny mention… especially as it’s another jaunt I’m off to! Thanks for putting up with the shop coming first, my endless demands and bringing things in to the shop when I’ve left them at home!”

At Earlybird in Stoke Newington, co-owner Heidi Early was very happy, as can be seen in the video below where she and colleague Hannah Sharman are showing off the two Retas trophies they’ve previously won.

Heidi said: “Wowsers! We’re always really nervous scanning PG Buzz for the names of finalists so to spot us straightaway was immense!

“To have reached the finals again is just bloody brilliant. As small business owners it’s always a case of head down and getting on with the job so to get recognition that some people think we’re the best independent card shop in London just really makes us stand up and feel proud.

“Thank you so much to our customers and everyone who voted for us, and team EB who keep our doors open every day for the last 20 years – give or take a few pandemic closures! We can’t wait to party with everyone in July.

“Massive congrats to all the brilliant card shops around the country who help to keep delivering smiles and who have also been nominated, we are privileged to be among you.”

Tracey and Chris Bryant run a trio of stores – Expressions in Swindon, Cat’s Whiskers in Bishop’s Cleeve, and Polkadot in Keynesham which they took over five years ago this week – and were absolutely delighted with their nomination for the South West category, admitting: “How excited are we! To be recognised for doing something we love is extra special. Thanks to all who nominated and voted for us xx ‘

Above & top: The team at Utility’s Liverpool One flagship store jump for joy
Above & top: The team at Utility’s Liverpool One flagship store jump for joy

The team at Utility’s Liverpool and Manchester stores were jumping with joy at the nomination for the Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer – North nomination, and director Kate Cowie said: “We are honoured and delighted to be a finalist at The Retas especially as in November Utility will celebrate its 25th birthday and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate. We really are super excited.”

The news brings joy to even the bigger retailers with Sainsbury’s cards and wrap buyer Shar Grothier commenting: “This is such exciting news and we’re thrilled to be a finalist for Best Supermarket Retailer Of Greeting Cards.

“Working within the greeting card industry is a true honour and delight, and we are so proud to be able to offer a range of beautiful greeting cards to our customers at Sainsburys.”

Having recently opened a second Nor store in Beckenham Place Park, owner Serge Sumerling can be seen expressing his delight in the video below and added: “Absolutely delighted to receive news that Nor has been shortlisted…a great big thank you to all those who nominated us – OMG OMG OMG! Amazing news.”

There were happy tears for Andrea Pinder at Presentation of Barrowford who features in two Retas categories, who told PG Buzz: “Wow! I’m sooooooo excited I’m bursting with pride. I actually cried when I heard the news. It’s such a wonderful achievement to be nominated and recognised for everyone’s dedication and hard work within such a fantastic industry.

There’s a double nomination for Sally Matson at Red Card in Petworth too, making the list in both the Best Retail Initiative and Home Counties & South East categories.

“We are absolutely stoked to be shortlisted for two categories in The Retas 2024,” Sally said. “We’re also very honoured to be on a shortlist among such great retailers – very proud!

“One of our very favourite days of the year is meeting all our industry buddies at the awards ceremony in the big city in summer, we can’t wait. Thank you to everyone who nominated us!”

Above: Great news for Red Card’s Sally Matson
Above: Great news for Red Card’s Sally Matson

Red Card is up against Milford Cards & Gifts in the regional category where co-owner Kayleigh Hisim said: “To be in the top seven greeting cards shops of the Home Counties & South East is just incredible. Now for the wait until July when it’s off to London we go! We are so honoured to be alongside these independent greetings shops as finalists – now off to hunt for a dress!”

Rightly proud at the fourth nomination for Hugs & Kisses in Tettenhall, owner Caroline Ranwell cheered: “We are so, so proud that we’re again a finalist in the Midlands! This is the fourth time that we have been a finalist so we are absolutely over the moon!

“These awards are the equivalent of the Oscars in the greeting card retail world so it’s a real honour to be one of the seven finalists in our area. A huge thank you, we can’t wait to see everyone at the awards event at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 4 July.”

At Kinver’s Country Kate owner Katie Wilkinson was ready to pop with excitement, as can be seen in the video below, and exclaimed: “We’re absolutely blown away with the amazing news we are in the finals. We are so proud and excited – we are that excited we could pop!

“This is a massive achievement for us, these awards are like the Oscars and to have got down to the final seven is amazing. We can’t wait to go and celebrate at the awards ceremony – this year’s theme is Beatrix Potter, my favourite!”

The news has crowned another big birthday as Cards ’N’ Things in Hellesdon has celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, and Helen Southgate, who runs the family business with husband Paul, yelled: “Wahoo! We’re so pleased to be finalists in the Best Independent Retailer – East Anglia category. Thanks to all our suppliers who nominated and voted for us, especially celebrating our 40th year.”

It was a nice surprise for Ryan Shoobridge, who owns Battle House Of Cards and Gemini Greetings in Heathfield, and said: “A bit of a surprise yesterday to find out we’re a finalist in The Retas awards for our area. I didn’t know we’d been nominated but it’s really lovely to be included!”

And Ivad Gifts’ director Laura Bell commented: “What a great 20th year we’re having, we’re so delighted to have been part of Paisley and bringing you great cards and gifts since 2004.

Above: Katie Wilkinson is so excited she could pop at Country Kate
Above: Katie Wilkinson is so excited she could pop at Country Kate

“Wow! We’re so excited to have found out that we’ve been nominated as finalists in The Retas awards. A fabulous surprise as we were nominated by suppliers or reps and it’s only four weeks since we were highly commended for the Best Gift Shop in Scotland.”

At Chirpy in Chapel Allerton, owner Jo McBeath admitted: “Greeting cards are the backbone of Chirpy and we love it when our customers comment on the wonderful choice we have. We’re delighted that we’re a finalist for The Retas awards in the North East category.”

The full list of finalists for The Retas 2024 awards can be found here, and the winners will be revealed in the ballroom of London’s Grosvenor House Hotel where the event will take on a World Of Beatrix Potter theme, with the full blessing and support of Frederick Warne & Co and Penguin Ventures, with images supplied courtesy of the Frederick Warne Archive.

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

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