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Retailer Face To Face
Gee Tee’s is a force that has long defied the parametres of retailing pigeonholes, stocking everything from household cleaning fluids to upmarket wardrobes. Last month the Wigan-based family owned mini group installed The Card Room, a new look card and wrappings department into its Westhoughton store, nurturing its position as a destination card retailer. PG caught up with Yasmin Twist, card buyer of The Card Room, to find out more about this new ‘twist’ to Gee Tee’s. Having been a fixture in Pemberton, Ashtonin-Makerfield, Fleetwood, Bamber Bridge and Westhoughton for decades, Gee Tee’s local customers know that the shops are where they can come for all manner of products – for the home, garden or gifting. And while greeting cards have long featured in the Gee Tee’s product line-up, last month saw the final touches being put to The Card Room, Gee Tee’s new ‘store within a store’ greeting card shop that has been installed in its Westhoughton branch, near Bolton. Next up, its Bamber Bridge store is to receive the same treatment and, all being well, it will be rolled out into its other three stores in due course. “Greeting cards have always featured in our stores, and thanks to Yasmin’s watchful eye and natural affinity for the product, we have built up quite a following as a destination for cards. They really do bring people into the stores,” explains George Twist, founder of the company paying tribute to his wife Yasmin’s greeting card bent. “Our commitment to The Card Room is the next stage in our development on this front,” adds George. 42
PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE
When Yasmin joined her husband in the business 16 years ago, leaving behind her career as a nurse, she freely admits she “knew nothing about cards”, but felt it was an area that had potential. “What made it possible, right from the start, was that the people in card industry are just lovely. Everyone was, and still are, so helpful,” says Yasmin. “Progressive Greetings was invaluable, I learned so much from reading the articles, using the adverts to source products and introduce publishers,” says Yasmin. Back at the start, it was Hallmark, UK Greetings (especially Hanson White), Excelsior Graphics and Grassroots that were the main suppliers, but over time Yasmin has considerably broadened the publisher base
Above: The new card selection includes trialling some new looks, such as this contemporary neon collection, which brings together designs from different publishers. Below: The large Gee Tee’s varietal store at Westhoughton which is debuting The Card Room ‘store within a store’ concept. Bottom: Yasmin and George’s son Jordan, a graphic designer, has created the livery for the new department, which UKG has produced.
without alienating the loyal local customers who buy an impressive number of cards from the stores. “You would never believe the huge sales we generate from our Pemberton store, for example,” says Yasmin. “Sadly, being in an area with a lot of older customers one of our best selling areas is our sympathy cards display which justifies its own unit. You have to cater for your customers’ needs.” Leaving behind the bustle of the high street based Pemberton store, a short drive away on a small retail park in Westhoughton is Yasmin’s ‘new baby’ - The Card Room. This high-ceiled airy store has lent itself beautifully to trail-blaze Gee Tee’s new card concept, which features contemporary fixtures, focused ‘wow areas’ of highlighted ranges and fresh PoS. “It was our son Jordan who came up the name as customers always refer to our