Today’s spotlight is on Dragonfly Cards and Gifts, an award winning card and gift shop run by mother and daughter team, Rita Knibbs and Rachael Barnes, in the picturesque market town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.
How did you start out?
Rita used to have a card shop in the nearby town of Wetherby, but sold it when the lease came up for renewal as older family members needed caring for. She planned on early retirement but Rachael had other ideas! After leaving university and a few years spent in marketing first for the AA, then for Best Western Hotels, Rachael felt the time was right to open a new card and gift shop in her home town of Knaresborough. Dragonfly Cards and Gifts was born from this, 11 years ago!
What products do you sell in your shop?
We are a specialist greetings card shop – covering literally every occasion, and we stock a range of impulse gifts to sit along side this. Partyware, in particular helium balloons, also forms a large part of our business.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing small business at the moment
Rising costs from every side is definitely the biggest challenge at the moment – minimum wage increases again, workplace pensions, potentially rate increases, plus almost every supplier increasing their prices due to the currency fluctuations. There is only so much that you can pass on to the consumer.
What tips do you have for fellow small business owners?
Don’t ever expect to get rich quick from your business, it has to be a real labour of love. There are rewards to be had but for me the real satisfaction is being part of the community and hearing feedback from happy customers.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Our breadth of offering – I literally choose every individual card on our racks as I know what will appeal to our customers. It’s a lot more time consuming than buying a plan, but we definitely see the benefit. Customer service is key too, as with any business.
How important is social media in promoting your business?
Social media is great for raising awareness, of new product lines or as a reminder of key dates coming up. It’s great for interacting with customers, asking for feedback and opinions too.
What has been your most successful promotion/marketing idea?
For our 10th anniversary we ran a big campaign all centred around the number 10. We had 10 goody bags to give away perhaps to the 10th customer of the day, at 10am, on the 10th of the month or to the 10th person to like a Facebook status. This was over the course of the whole year so it kept the interest going, and we had amazing response, particularly on social media. The icing on the cake was it won us a Reta for best marketing initiative!
What are your plans for the future?
We’ve grown the business every year for the past 11 so we hope to keep that upward trend going. We’re trialling new gift ranges, in particular confectionery at the moment, so will be interested to see how that goes. Early indications are certainly promising.
What features/articles would you like to see on Gift Shop Hub?
Features on gifts for card shops – I.e lower value impulse items would be welcomed. Sharing of marketing campaigns that have proved successful would also be great – we’re all plugging away up and down the country when we could use each other’s tried and tested methods.
Quick fire questions:
Favourite song: I’ve recently developed a love of Nashville style country. If I had to pick one song though I’d have to go for an oldie, Hurt by Jonny Cash.
Favourite film: Bee Movie – it’s a kid’s film but the jokes are so much more on an adult level I think I laughed more than my daughter.
Favourite animal: Cat – we’ve recently adopted a kitten from the RSPCA who is part Bengal and absolutely adorable (although I’m sure she thinks she’s a dog they way she follows us round)
Following Dragonfly Cards and Gifts on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dragonflycardsandgifts