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Hugs & Kisses Celebrates 21st Anniversary

Gift retailer Caroline Ranwell – winner of The Greats Independent Gift Retailer of the Year – Midlands & Wales category – is celebrating the 21st anniversary of her gift shop Hugs & Kisses in Tettenhall this year. The shop first opened its doors in 2003.

“It was a store that was very familiar to me as I used to call on it in my previous role as a rep,” Caroline told GiftsandHome.net. “Today, in addition to greeting cards, we sell a lot of gifts, to include products from Marmalade, Lily Flame, Best Kept Secrets, Inis, Life Charms, Crumble & Core, Joe Davies, Richard Lang, Container Group and many other gift companies. We also offer a big range of handbags.”

Looking at the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of selling gifts, Caroline highlights: “Back in 2001, when we opened our first shop in Merry Hill in Wolverhampton, gifting was very commercial. Now there are a lot of cheaper places selling gifts, such as Home Bargains, B & M etc., who are all doing very similar things and sell them cheaper than we can buy them. Plus, retailers such as Next are also selling a huge range of gifts nowadays. As an independent gift retailer, you can’t compete with that, which means you have to work harder and smarter to find something different, ideally something design-led, as well as products with exclusivity in your area, because today, compared to 21 years ago, people are looking for something different.”

Above: Big smiles from Hugs & Kisses’ Caroline Ranwell and husband Jon at The Gift Awards in May. Hugs & Kisses won The Greats Independent Gift Retailer of the Year - Midlands & Wales category.
Above: Big smiles from Hugs & Kisses’ Caroline Ranwell and husband Jon at The Gift Awards in May. Hugs & Kisses won The Greats Independent Gift Retailer of the Year – Midlands & Wales category.

She adds that, compared to 2003, the choice is much greater for shoppers, highlighting home fragrancing as an example. “We’ve always offered candles, but the breadth of product has really expanded over the past two decades. Now there are diffusers and electric oil burners and wax melts, whereas, 21 years ago, we didn’t have that. We also started to sell Belgian chocolates 13 years ago, which we didn’t offer when we started out. It’s a sector that’s really continuing to grow for us, and every year we sell more and more.”

Continued Caroline: “In addition, Covid has encouraged more people to shop locally, which has been a good thing to come out of the pandemic. I think it’s harder in city centres but in villages, people want to support small businesses, so I see the future for independent gift retail as very promising.

“In our experience, we’ve found that people want to see and touch things in store and have the interaction and personal service. And while it’s fine to shop online – we have a Hugs & Kisses website – nothing beats going into a shop. And at Hugs & Kisses, that where our heart is.”

Top: Hugs & Kisses in Tettenhall is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.

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