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