Card shop owner in Sidmouth is ‘over the moon’ at award recognition

Paper Moon - finalist in a best card shop award

Paper Moon - finalist in a best card shop award - Credit: Archant

A greeting card shop that prides itself on the ‘personal touch’ has reached the regional finals of a national competition. It’s a welcome surprise for the owner who’s recovering from cancer treatment.

Jo and Martin Johnstone outside their shop Paper Moon

Jo and Martin Johnstone outside their shop Paper Moon - Credit: Archant

Jo Johnstone, 63, has run Paper Moon in Fore Street with her husband Martin, also 63, for five years.

Reflecting on her recent health ordeal, she said: “I was a little old lady with a stick but it’s wonderful to be feeling much better.

“I can honestly tell you that it’s only in the last few weeks that I have felt well. It was a nasty experience but the customers have been so supportive.”

The shop has been chosen for the Retas Awards run by Progressive Greetings magazine. The finals are at the Dorchester Hotel in London in July.

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The couple previously ran No 83 card shop in the High Street, having moved to Colyford in 1998 to run a B & B. ‘We realised it wasn’t the life for us,” she said.

Jo previously worked as a personal assistant in advertising for Saatchi and Saatchi in London. She also worked for a greeting card publisher for a while. Her husband is from the Johnstone paint business family in Manchester.

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So what is the secret of their success? “Unlike the big chains that are governed by head office and what stock they have, I can cherry pick the cards we have. We can offer a friendly service with a smile,” she said.

The Retas Awards honour the best greetings card retailers in the UK. The public spends £1.7 billion on cards every year, more than any other country. The winners are decided by a poll of suppliers, reps and agents.

The shop plays classical music and has a vast selection of cards. “If people come in with an unusual request we can put our hands straight on it. I won’t sell crude or nasty cards – I don’t see any reason why anyone would send a crude card,” she said.

“We get so many people coming from the length and breadth of the country and they come with lists of cards they want for the coming year.”

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