RIP Clinton Cards

And so it seems the prediction I made late last year came true yesterday.    Clinton Cards has gone into Administration.   Or rather it seems, pushed into it by one of their largest suppliers.

I am not surprised.   I said that any of the High Street shops that just sold one thing would be in trouble.   We, as shoppers, dont go to shops for one specific item anymore when we can buy it along with other stuff.   Not unless it really is something special.

The High Street has been dying for years, we all know that.   And it seems whilst independents are booming, the bigger boys are struggling.    Which makes me wonder if the CEOs of these stores ever actually go into them.   I am guessing they don’t.

When I think about our local Clinton Cards for instance, there is nothing in there to either inspire me or entice me in.   It’s a huge store but actually cards are the last thing you see when you walk by, it is all cuddly toys and quite honestly, crap.

Who really buys the other stuff they sell?   The “me to you” bears?   Boofle bears?  Or God forbid their “Deco Figurine” range at £45.    Google it.   If anybody ever buys me one of those I will not be responsible for my actions relating to what I do with it.     The champagne glasses engraved with the number 18?  From the look of the dust on the stuff in our shop, nobody.   It has all been there for years, looking sad and dull and not saying “buy me / buy me / buy me”.

And I buy cards.  I buy lots of cards.   I went in to Scribbler recently and spent £40 on cards just to shove in my “card box”.   Cards that made me laugh, that I could send for no reason what so ever.    I have never done that in Clinton Cards.   Ever.   It doesn’t even occur to me to go in there for a Birthday card.

Clinton Stores are too big so you wander round not really seeing anything.    When I have been in recently I haven’t bought anything.   Not a thing.    I just can’t find anything I like and I can always find something I like normally.

And you never really see anybody else in there.    Which makes you think they are to be avoided.    Nothing says “busy busy, look at what you are missing by walking by”.    Scribbler stores are tiny.   You squeeze in and cards are EVERYWHERE.  You can’t help but look at them.  Stacked from ceiling to floor, with stands in the middle, it is all about cards and it works.  It is fabulous.   You can’t help but find things to buy, even if you only went in to shelter from the rain or kill ten minutes before the next bus.

But on the off chance you have wandered in to Clintons and have found something to buy you arrive at the till to find the sales staff on a raised plinth, looking down on you.   Quite often in more ways than one.   Behind a counter that is covered in more crap.

No, I am sorry but it was time for Clinton Cards to be put out of its misery.   I am sorry for the staff about to be made redundant, of course I am.   But this business didn’t deserve to succeed.   They didnt step up to the plate in the face of High Street competition from places such as Scribbler, or from online shops such as Moonpig.   Or indeed from supermarkets where you can just sling a couple of cards in your trolley with your weekly shop.     Their website isnt bad, and you can buy personalised cards etc on there, but the stores are just dire.

Take note others on the High Street, if you don’t up your game you are going the same way.    Us shoppers have money to spend, but we can be choosy with it.    You have to make us want to spend money in your shop or we won’t bother.   And then what happens….

NB Robert Dyas I am thinking you might be next.

Ditto WH Smith if it wasn’t for their news distribution I could see them doing the same, their shops are always a mess and I hate being asked “Do you want a half price chocolate bar” at the till.    Do I look like I need a half price chocolate bar?   Don’t answer that

 

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  • It is so true . Very rarely buy cards on a card shop anymore. Too many other places sell themfar more conveniently and at a better price for no difference in quality etc. They tried to diversify into party stuff but how many people knew about that and online is so strong for party supplies.

    I’m very interested about your Robert Dyas prediction. Think that would be more of a blow.

  • Very well put, I do buy in clintons but have to say not for cards, my son collects the ‘blue nose’ friends and they are good incentive for good behaviour from at appointments ect, and WHSmiths don’t get me started on them and the silly offers at the till and the tree of receipts and offers they also give you, I hand them back…lol.. x

  • You are right in everything you say. Except the chocolate bar bit. I always need a half price chocolate bar – they can read my mind.
    Sadly, I predict that American Greetings (they that pulled the plug) will ‘save’ a percentage of the stores and brand them as their own. They’ve wanted retail stores in the UK for years.
    Question is, will they sell anything any of us want to buy? Given they are the biggest supplier of Clinton cards and there isn’t anything we want to buy in them at the moment, probably not.

  • Hm, interesting blog post, and quite true, too. Devastating for our High Street as we have Clintons and Birthdays (was it that one?), both one and the same as I learned yesterday. There won’t be very much left here after they disappear, other than more charity shops (essential as they are, but not exclusively so, please!), and cheap discounter chains of the non-food variety that sell a load of junk. I don’t agree on the WHSmith note though, I would hate to see that gone, but have to admit their marketing could do with some sprucing up. Can’t stand the half price chocolate offers when I’m rushing through to get my diary or whatever, either.

  • Clinton Cards
    As a ‘Yankee Candle’ merchandiser visiting both the Manchester Arndale Store and Stockport Merseyway Store I have nothing but praise for the staff who work extremely hard in Clinton Cards.
    Additionally, Clinton Cards were the only store able to sell a number of current waxes and reed diffusers at 50% off…which was very popular with its customers. Beat that!!

    • That is marvellous.

      But Clinton Cards is a card shop… that is my point. I dont think of going to Clinton Cards for a reed diffuser and nor do most of their customers. And clearly it isnt that popular in reality or they wouldnt be going bust.