After having been closed for the last four months of lockdown, Monday (April 26) saw greeting card retailers in Scotland at long last be able to fling open their doors to welcome back their customers.
“Back. For. Good. After four long months we have reopened our Edinburgh shops. It feels great,” stated Michael Apter, owner of the two Paper Tiger stores in Scotland’s capital on social media.
However, he followed up with a serious message for the public: “Every independent business on the High Street is gasping for custom. As sectors reopen, please get out and about this week, this month, this year, and support them too!”
Click below to see the Paper Tiger reopening welcome…
He revealed that the first day of trading was “in line with expectations” and encouragingly “much better than Day One back in June last year”. That said, he admitted that Edinburgh is still fairly quiet, and cold wind and drizzle was not exactly shopping weather. However, average transactional value has been up: “People are spending more per visit, which was very much in line with our experience last time around, stocking up on impulse cards rather than just specific occasions cards. Also there has been a fair bit of ‘self treating’ Customer feedback has been really positive; pleased we are back; delighted to be shopping with us again, and enjoying the selection on the shelves.”
Over in Glasgow, right from the off since Monday’s reopening, Fiona Fabian, owner of Papyrus said: “There was a real buzz about the place – the street was busy and hospitality had the tables and chairs out on the pavements.”
Fiona describes the whole reopening experience as having been “very emotional” largely due to the lovely comments from customers. “I will never ever take any customer for granted – not that I did anyway – but somehow I appreciate them even more! I could have hugged them all, but that’s not allowed!” said Fiona.
A few miles south west of Glasgow in Barrhead, Chris Waters, owner of Giftscene, reported that early trading patterns have been “very encouraging” since reopening.
“Customers have been telling me how pleased they are to be able to get good cards again. Loads of customers are buying their cards in bulk in case of another lockdown. Just hoping for everyone’s sake that won’t happen!” said Chris. “I’m the eternal optimist so I’m confident trade will be strong and steady over the coming months.”
Despite being relatively new to the Campbeltown neighbourhood (having relocated the shop from Gourock) Coorie Doon’s co-owner Katrina Roberts-Pollock said: “people have been VERY welcoming; we’re just thrilled to be open again.”
Further north the weather was definitely not kind, pelting down with heavy rain for much of the first day which did dampen footfall.
“Results today were very mixed,” said David Robertson, md of JP Pozzi and Bijou in Elgin and Buckie. “Elgin was really busy. Buckie less so. The weather was definitely against us.”
Sharing the same patch of sky in Elgin, Sarah Holmes, owner of Pencil Me In said that she was relieved that at the end of the first day of trading that she had “double normal takings”, buoyed up by some larger purchases.
“We had a quieter morning while the rumours of queues at TK Maxx and everyone’s favourite breakfast spot were reported, but lots of people were around in the town. While I am grateful for all of the online purchases we did get during our four months of being closed it has been lovely to see our customers selecting their own products and then serving them in store.”
Echoing the sentiment of all retailers, Sarah said she was delighted that lots of her regular locals popped in. “It is just so nice to see their faces and chat again!”
Top: A lot of the Paper Tiger team met up just prior to the reopening to ‘Refocus, Remember, Review & Renew’ the company’s values and beliefs. As part of this they enjoyed sketching workshop with Edinburgh Sketcher.