In Which?’s annual survey of the UK’s ‘best and worst’ shops, voted for by 10,000 shoppers, Toolstation and Richer Sounds 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?
Helen Fisher, owner of SNAP, Roman Road, London:
“Carnaby Street always delivers a great shopping experience. I love Monki, which is there, because it’s so bright and caters perfectly to its audience – loud music, bright colours, glitter, fur, mirrors, the lot!
It’s perfect for picking something fun (as long as you don’t go in with a headache as it can be full on!)
Another favourite of mine is Other Stories, which has a gorgeous womenswear and accessory store on London’s Argyll Street, which I adore. Its simple, beautiful branding, packaging, and design of the store always makes me desperate to buy something (I usually wait until the sale!).
And my ‘shopping secret’ would be a trip around a really good hardware/bargain store: One of those shops that sells literally EVERYTHING. There’s something about the bright colours, organised stacks of tins, tubs, tape, tinsel, whatever, that make me unendlessly happy. I could mooch for hours. It doesn’t matter what country I’m in I will always make time to visit if I spot one.”
Denise Laird, owner of Spirito, Glasgow:
“Whenever I am in London I make a special point of visiting Anthropologie. The stores have a relaxed atmosphere with helpful, knowledgeable staff, a cool vibe and a distinctive look. They are very spacious, with expansive ranges of clothing, homeware, gifts and beauty products.
I really admire what they achieve with creative, inspirational displays. The stock is quirky and feels more personal because it does not follow convention.
Additionally, the music playlists help to create a positive ambience, and I particularly love the fact that customers are welcome to bring their canine companions in with them.”
Beverley Heyworth, owner of Blue Rose Gifts & Balloons, Heywood:
“My favourite shop is a bookshop, such as Waterstones, but I like old shops that sell second hand books too.
There’s something magical about a bookshop. Firstly, there’s the smell (of old books in particular) that draws you in. Once inside you are met with row upon row of books just waiting to be opened, each with their own unique story to tell, each waiting to take you to different worlds and introduce you to different characters.
I used to read about six books a week when I was younger, but unfortunately working a seven days week (an empire doesn’t build itself!) I don’t always get the chance.
I love to browse, sit and read new and old books. I have been through all genres, but my main one is fantasy. This began when I was a young child. My favourite book was ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’, then at school I loved the Griffin and Pirate books, and now as an adult I collect copies of the Count of Monte Cristo. I have about 12 different editions; what wouldn’t I pay to have a first edition?!
I think spending so much time in bookshops this has helped me to be creative in my own shop – I always get comments like “You can get lost in here”, “I can wander round for hours” and, “It is a beautiful shop with so much to see.
I like to think that Blue Rose Gifts & Balloons is like a book -it’s that magical, fun, bright and lively place that you want to spend your spare half hour in, to submerge yourself in, and you love to come back to whenever you have the chance to discover more new and exciting things.”