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Janine Woolley

Emotions Cards & Gifts, High St, Bloxwich, Staffs Market St, Kingswinford Dudley St, Sedgley, West Mids

We opened in the early 80s but we haven’t got the fi rst shop any more, that was in Birmingham. It was my husband Colin’s parents who started in about 1980 – before I met him. His business partner is his sister Tracey Poyner, and I work for them in the Bloxwich store. We all have a go at buying, we have the reps come to us and also go to the trade shows. We do fi nd that different things sell well in the different shops. In this shop we have a range from 35p to £15, there really is something for everyone. The expensive card is a Me To You boxed one, and the most popular is Jonny Javelin’s Velvet range, It’s a totally unique

shop I can’t think of anyone who runs their shop like we do, we have seven or eight different designs in each pocket not like these other shops where they only have six of the same card. We do Me To You gifts,

Boofl e, Splosh, Jonny Javelin, Xpressions 4U, we have a lot of Joe Davies and we pick up stuff at the cash and carry – thinking about it now, there’s not much we don’t have!

Sales have been fairly steady really, which is good. I don’t want to upset any of the reps but for me

personally, at the moment my favourite range is probably Velvet – and Jonny Javelin are a really lovely company.

Clare McMenamin Card Gallery, Woodborough Road, Mapperley, Notts It started 21 years ago when it was a fabric and upholstery shop and my mum Coleen had always wanted to open her own card shop. I started school nearby and that’s when she found the shop. I used to come in to help to earn my pocket money and about 10 years ago we became business partners. We both do the buying. If

it’s a company we’re familiar with we’ll do it ourselves but if it’s a new company we like to do it together, and if it’s for seasons we do too because it’s best to get both our ideas. We’ve only

been to the NEC for Spring Fair, we keep saying we’ll go to Harrogate but haven’t managed it yet. But it’s all under one roof at Spring Fair and we went this year with some ideas and managed to fi nd it all so

that was good. We deal with loads of companies as we try to have a little bit of everything, not the wholesale stuff, more on the higher side.

Our favourite is Five Dollar Shake and UK Greetings goes well but because we’re in Nottingham there’s a lot of the big chains around so we try to offer something different.

People come to us because we’re independent and have a lot of smaller companies, like local handmade ones that are more unusual. We have a guy who takes pictures locally and makes them into cards, Ed Ripon Photography, and we do the Handmade Card Company and the White Cotton Card Company, and James Ellis. We’ve just taken on Juniper Tree which is going so well. They are little companies that the bigger chains don’t do. It’s a point of difference for us. I went to California last year and fell in love with the Papyrus stores they have there. We were trying to work out how to get them over here when the UKG rep came in and said he had a new range which he thought we’d like because of the ranges we carry. When he opened the book it was Papyrus.

We’ve had the spinner in twice now and they fl y out – they’re going nearly as well as Five Dollar Shake for us. We do wedding, baby, all the general things. We do a lot of Rainbow Designs stuff and a little bit of jewellery, a lot of Transomnia – we like them – and from the NEC we‘ve just taken on Lilyfl ame Candles which are going really well. Also Terramundai goes really well.

We get a lot of men asking for boxed cards for their wife, but it’s a really limited selection now, I think it’s only Hallmark that do them, and the customers all talk about the padded cards you used to get.

Since Carte Blanche have

revamped their plush range with the different materials it’s selling better. I fi nd little pick-up things

sell really well, we have a spinner of WPL keyrings for £1.99 that fl y out, and a matching spinner of magnets and bookmarks, and we have phone pouches which also fl y out. Anything under £10, people do mind because it’s just a little pick-up item. It wasn’t so much the

recession that affected our sales - pay and display parking went in at the back of where we are and that really killed business but they’ve now introduced two hours free parking and through word of mouth it’s picking up again.

Also we used to have a HSBC bank opposite which they closed down and that used to bring 1,000 people a day through the area. But now they’ve opened a new Costa and I’ve really noticed the difference already.

A customer just said to me that she used to go to Sainsbury’s because she wasn’t going to pay for

parking when she only needed milk and a card, but now they’ve got the two-hour free parking she prefers to come here because she said our cards are far superior to Sainsbury, but it doubles the cost of a card when you have to pay for parking too. My personal favourite is Five Dollar Shake and I think mum would say the same. This season they’ve done fl uorescents which are selling well but the pearlised cards are still going better. I do really like their Glitterball range, and Etoile is a bestseller. 41

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