Store front news

Greetings retail openings, revamps, birthdays and closures around the UK


New stores, revamps, big birthdays and last-minute deals – it’s all going on with greeting card and stationery retailers.

Cards Direct has opened its latest outlets, with Bury St Edmunds just last week, Andover last month and Gloucester in July, taking the growing value retailer to well above 50 stores.

Above: Cards Direct is continuing to grow
Above: Cards Direct is continuing to grow

And Utility’s fourth design-led greeting card and gift store opened on Tuesday, 5 September, with co-director Richard Skelton saying: “On its very first day of trading, our Altrincham store has achieved unprecedented success, smashing all previous new store opening records in our 24-year history. The warm reception from the local community and the overwhelming foot traffic we experienced affirms our belief in this thriving location.

Above: Altrincham is Utility’s fourth outlet
Above: Altrincham is Utility’s fourth outlet

Co-director Dick Mawdsley added: “It’s been amazing. It’s trading really well and we’ve had fantastic feedback from lots of lovely customers,” and he explained they’ve been looking to open a second Manchester store for some time as Utility has “a big customer base here for both our shop and online sides” and he described the town as “one of the best High Streets I’ve seen anywhere in the UK”.

Above: Sweet treats were on offer for Joyce’s With Best Wishes’ birthday event
Above: Sweet treats were on offer for Joyce’s With Best Wishes’ birthday event

Meanwhile the big birthday front has seen Joyce’s With Best Wishes celebrate a quarter century in Lingfield, treating customers to a selection of fabulous cakes and pastries, coffee and bubbles, in the café side.

And up in Marple, well-known indie greetings and stationery geek Sarah Laker has been marking the coming of age of her original Stationery Supplies store: “It’s a significant milestone in everyone’s life, 18th birthdays mark the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood and so, as a purveyor of greeting cards, it seemed appropriate to celebrate!

Above & top: Sarah Laker is proud of her store’s coming of age
Above & top: Sarah Laker is proud of her store’s coming of age

“I asked all the super-duper publishers that supply my shops if they could send me one or two 18th cards, and they did me proud! There are over 100 cards in my shop window which is causing passers-by to stop in their tracks to look at it.”

The centrepiece is an eye-catching poster designed by Paper Salad with the wording “celebrating 18 years of supplying stationery to Marple”, and Sarah has used the same artwork design on labels for 50 goody bags which she gave out to customers on Saturday 9 September, filled with small gifts kindly donated by The Art File, Brainbox Candy, Redback Cards, Zebra Pens, Alljoy Design, Maped Helix, and Pentel UK.

It was back on 12 September, 2005, that Sarah took ownership of the store, having decided to step away from her nursing career to admit she’s a papyrophiliac – as stationery lovers are known.

“I had absolutely no idea how to run a shop, how to do accounts, how to buy, how to sell and the other twelftybillion things you need to know as an independent retailer,” Sarah told PG Buzz, “but, 18 years, two shops, five staff and the odd award later, maybe it’s time to start adulting and stop winging it!

Above: Kind suppliers donated gifts for the Stationery Supplies goody bags
Above: Kind suppliers donated gifts for the Stationery Supplies goody bags

“I’m so bloody proud of it especially after the last few turbulent years. Thank you to those who have my back, who kick me up the backside when I need it, who listen, advise and support. You know who you are.

“Thank you to all my brilliant, hard-working staff, especially to my stationer in training and eldest daughter Molly Laker whom I never imagined would want to work with me, and yet now I can’t imagine not working with her.

“Thank you to all my suppliers, at last count there were over 70 of you, some of you have been there since the beginning and some of you just a few months, whenever you joined me you are all an important part of my business journey.”

And up on the Isle Of Arran, the village of Brodick has just seen the official grand reopening of The Book & Card at Invercloy Corner following a major refurbishment that took a little longer than expected.

It’s been in the Johnston family since 1985 and is now into its third generation, run by husband and wife team Claire and Tom.

Above: The whole community joined in for The Book & Card reopening
Above: The whole community joined in for The Book & Card reopening

As well as the curated range of books, cards, toys, art supplies, giftwrap, and stationery, including the exclusive sustainable Arran Stationery products inspired by the island surroundings, the store is home to Brodick Post Office as well as a juice bar.

On the not-so-good news front, Beverley Walsingham is shutting up shop at Box Of Delights in Welwyn with an ongoing closing down sale clearing out stock, expecting to lock the doors for the final time in the next couple of weeks.

She made the announcement with “huge regret” but said the decision has been mostly driven as she’s moving away from the area “but also due to the ongoing economic climate and the lack of footfall in Welwyn village”.

Belinda added: “We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have had from our lovely customers throughout the 11 years we have been open and are very sad to be closing.

“I am starting again in the Cotswolds and will have a website – Box Of Delights Facebook page will remain active for the foreseeable future.”

Above: Box Of Delights is closing down after 11 years in Welwyn, but staying online
Above: Box Of Delights is closing down after 11 years in Welwyn, but staying online

And major High Street news is that it was announced on Monday, 11 September, that all 400 Wilko stores would be closed by early October with over 10,000 redundancies after the collapse of the proposed rescue deal by HMV owner Doug Putman.

However, at lunchtime today, 13 September, it was revealed that The Range has struck a deal with administrators PwC to buy the Wilko brand for £5million, and late yesterday Poundland owner Pepco revealed it has agreed to take control of up to 71 Wilko store leases to join its 800-plus estate.

But the news doesn’t help Wilko’s greeting card and stationery supplier IG Design Group – although it also supplies B&M which is understood to be acquiring around 50 of the failed retailer’s stores – as the units will be moved to the Poundland brand as soon as practical, and the deal doesn’t involve the transfer of any staff.

It is understood Poundland does intend to offer some roles to former Wilko staff, and supermarket giant Aldi has been encouraging those who have lost their jobs to apply as it plans to increase its estate by 500 stores.

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