In Which?’s annual survey of the UK’s ‘best and worst’ shops, voted for by 10,000 shoppers, technology specialists Richer Sounds and Toolstation came out tops, closely followed by John Lewis and Waterstones, with Card Factory featuring in 9th position, Paperchase in the 32nd spot and Clintons in 88th.
But what shops do it for those in the trade? PG Buzz asked a trio of card buyers what retailers hit the spot for them and why?
Sean Austin, owner of Austin & Co, Malvern:
“Liberty of London has always been a favourite. There aren’t many mock Tudor facades that grab my attention, but once inside the Paper Room, it’s everything I aspire my shop to be.
But when it comes to much smaller independent card and stationery shops, my ‘favouritist’ shop in the whole wide world is Greer of Chicago. It’s a collection of all things paper, and typewriters. I have visited many times and to its credit that being an owner of a stationery shop myself, I purchase stationery from there. The collection is spot on – high quality but affordable, different but not being way out there, and Chandra, the owner, is highly knowledgeable about what she sells. If you’re in Chicago, I highly recommend a visit.”
Carly Pearson, cards and wrap buyer for Sainsbury’s:
“I personally like Oliver Bonas and Anthropologie. I like that these shops offer a variety of product types and are displayed in an aspirational way that makes me want to recreate a look at home that I would never have thought to put together on my own.
From an independent perspective, I really love a shop called You where I live in Stamford. It offers a really lovely array of gifts I want to take home for myself, never mind give to other people, and also a shop called The Nest at No.9 in Olney, Bedfordshire. It’s just a really cool looking shop with fabulous wallpaper behind the counter!”
Amanda Oscroft, partner of Love it, Stamford and Bury St Edmunds:
“I absolutely love visiting an amazing independent hardware shop called Harrison and Dunn in Stamford (where Love It has a store). I know it doesn’t sound very glamorous, and I know I look like a fish out of water tottering in my heels, smelling of Jo Malone, marvelling at the array of industrial bits and bobs, but I am in heaven in there!
The staff are marvellous; always ready to help even if I only want a 20p hook. The amount of stock is unbelievable, they have EVERYTHING! They have helped my little shop for over 18 years and I can’t send my husband in anymore because I don’t see him for hours. It’s not a shop it’s a sanctuary.”
* More retailer faves appear in PG’s February edition.