Top Picks: Stationery Supplies’ Sarah Laker, Red Card’s Sally Matson and East Grinstead Bookshop’s John Pye and Krystyna O’Brien share their PG Live faves

Publishers really did pull out the stops with their product launches at the recent PG Live, the first dedicated greeting card show in two years, and all the newness was lapped up by the many retailers who attended.

Here a trio of leading card retailers share their views on the show and what specific ranges and companies caught their eye…

John Pye, owner and Krystyna O’Brien, head marketing manager of The Bookshop, East Grinstead

“It was an absolute delight to attend PG Live. I think it’s probably the best trade event that we’ve ever attended in over 37 years in the business.

Right from the outset, everything was just so nice. From Jackie Lomax who greeted us at the door so cheerfully, to the girls in their card dresses handing out the tote bags, to the buzz that greeted us as we entered the venue proper. Everything was so well organised.”

Above: John Pye (right) and Krystyna O’Brien (second right) with Cardology’s David Falkner and his wife and business partner Kripa Shah.
Above: John Pye (right) and Krystyna O’Brien (second right) with Cardology’s David Falkner and his wife and business partner Kripa Shah.

“Where else can you go and have a champagne reception, tea and coffee on tap, a wonderful quality lunch and even have a solo saxophonist serenade you. The attention to detail was simply second to none. It really was such fun to attend and we are already looking forward to next year. Max Exhibitions have created something really special with Progressive Greetings Live.”

What ranges and companies stood out for you at the show?

“We chose to spend our Sunshine Ticket with Cardology, whose pop-up cards are market leading.

As for who else caught our eye, we thought that the dog cards of Gruff Pawtraits were fabulous; we were drawn to the poetry cards of Shmuncki Verse and we loved the Five Dollar Shake stand. Plus, it was an absolute pleasure to also visit the Woodmansterne stand. We can`t wait to receive all the cards we have ordered.”

Above: One of Five Dollar Shake’s Christmas designs that was launched at the show.
Above: One of Five Dollar Shake’s Christmas designs that was launched at the show.

Sarah Laker, owner of Stationery Supplies, Marple and Wilmslow

“Oh, the sheer pleasure of being back at a trade fair and buying! I had a blast. There was such an excited buzz in the air. It was both familiar and strange as I tried to remember what questions I needed to ask and the publishers tried to remember their prices and sales patter. Everywhere you looked there were people smiling, chatting and laughing, how ‘normal’ it felt after such a torrid 16 months. And great to meet up with industry friends. It’s been far too long.
All the stands looked fabulous, everyone had made such an effort. And there so many beautiful cards, funny cards, rude cards…it was hard to decide what to buy! I went with just the 10 orders…oops!”

Above: Happy days! Sarah Laker with Dean Morris.
Above: Happy days! Sarah Laker with Dean Morris.

“It was my first visit to PG Live, and I’d highly recommend it. It was so well organised, and with a free lunch and opening party too! If you sell cards, then it’s definitely not to be missed.

Back in the shop customers have been coming in saying how much they enjoyed that I shared my trip with them over social media and that they were looking forward to seeing the new cards and stationery. Now I’m looking forward to receiving all the orders. The hotel is booked for next year’s show!”

What ranges and companies stood out for you at the show?

The Art File: Parade – This beautiful range caught my eye on the first morning of the show, it really has the ‘wow’ factor…I’ve ordered it for both shops along with some roll wrap.

Above: The Parade collection from The Art File was a ‘stand out’ for Sarah Laker, among others.
Above: The Parade collection from The Art File was a ‘stand out’ for Sarah Laker, among others.

Brainbox Candy: I’ve had a couple of complaints about ‘sweary cards’ in my Marple shop, but wanted to keep selling them as demand is growing! So, Brainbox’s Cheeky Box for over 18s is a great idea and I think it will solve the problem. I’ve also ordered some Jeffrey and Janice notebooks, bookmarks and calendars for both shops (part of the licensing collaboration between Bold & Bright and Brainbox Candy). My customers love the hilarious cards so I know these will go down a storm.

Dean Morris: Who would have thought I’d be having a discussion about the scale of swearing acceptable in my shops at 9.30 in the morning with the legend that is Dean Morris? Dean’s cards were so funny I couldn’t choose so I’ve left it to him to send me a selection of best sellers for each shop along with some of his witty pens. I even helped him out with my nerdy stationery knowledge as he didn’t know his pens were refillable until I’d taken one apart. We were both delighted that I spent my Sunshine Ticket with him.

Hype: Being a child of the 70s my eye was attracted to the Peanuts cards on Hype’s colourful stand. I was carefully guided through my ordering and have gone with a great selection of cards, including Peanuts and Moomin and a box or two of badges. Everyone likes a badge don’t they?!”

Above: There was some Snoopy philosophy to be had on the Hype stand.
Above: There was some Snoopy philosophy to be had on the Hype stand.

Stormy Knight: I was first attracted to the stand for its Bloom seed stick card range as it ticks all my boxes – eco, good design, unique. I then started looking at the other cards whose beautiful illustrations simply made me smile and decided I’d split a small order between the shops to test the water, but then got carried away and ended up with a carriage paid order for both shops. Other publishers that I’m going to follow up with in a few weeks include Paper Salad, Alphablots and Stripey Cats.”

Sally Matson, co-owner of Red Card, Petworth

“It was a great day and so lovely to be back at a trade show – especially one where all the exhibitors had made such a huge effort with their stands.

It was also lovely to catch up with friends who run shops as well as exhibitors, reps and agents.

I placed 15 orders at the show with more to follow, so a very busy and successful shopping trip that was worth me breaking off my family holiday for a couple of days!”

Above: Sally Matson (left) with Laura Stoddart.
Above: Sally Matson (left) with Laura Stoddart.

What ranges and companies stood out for you at the show?

“I placed orders with Belly Button Designs, Clanna Cards (Sunshine Ticket), Counting Stars, Ginger Betty, Kali Stileman (Sunshine Ticket), Laura Stoddart (Golden Ticket), Meraki, The Pattern Book, Poet & Painter, Sooshichacha, Wendy Jones-Blackett and Woodmansterne.”

Above: An eye-catching design from Sooshichacha.
Above: An eye-catching design from Sooshichacha.

I also loved Mister Peebles’ fine art animal cards, the bird/wildlife designs from Lizzie Perkins of Art Matters and the amazing square photographic cards from Carpe Lumen.”

Above: The Carpe Lumen portfolio covers many themes of photographic cards.
Above: The Carpe Lumen portfolio covers many themes of photographic cards.

“I really liked the boxes of birthday cards from Belly Button Designs, great value with ten mixed cards with an RRP of £10ish; the beautiful bookmark cards from Poet & Painter; the fab new colourful wordy range from Counting Stars and the beautiful new botanical range from Kali Stileman on gorgeous linen board as well as her amazing gold foiled age cards.

I will also be placing post show orders with Hype, I Drew This, Objectables and Pigment.”

Top: Krystyna O’Brien (left) and Sarah Laker enjoying meeting each other for the first time at The Retas Champagne Reception at the show.

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