Congratulations to card retailers Russell and Yvonne Payne, who have been named the Daily Echoâ€™s Retailer of the Year 2021
The Payneâ€™s independent card shop, Best Wishes of Bishopâ€™s Waltham, picked up the first prize in a competition run by their local newspaper.
Thanks to their winning status, the icing on the cake has been an invite from local MP Flick Drummond to go to the Palace of Westminster for a celebratory tea and a tour.
With all this and what looks like â€˜an extremely good Christmasâ€™ in terms of sales for the retailer, itâ€™s been quite a year for the Hampshire shop, which celebrated its10th birthday earlier this year.
Russell told Greetings Today: â€œWe were up against John Lewis in the final, and my wife said we had no chance. But we had customers coming in after the closing date asking if we had heard anything. They had all gone to the trouble of cutting out the voting form the paper and posting it in. We were really blown away.â€™â€™
Russell added: â€œThe ladies toilets in John Lewis are bigger than our whole shop! But I think the award is about service and customers. People vote for people and you donâ€™t really know the people behind the till in a shop like John Lewis.â€™â€™
A sense of community is certainly at the heart of the shopâ€™s ethos. They run a card delivery service for residents who are unable to get out of the shop, as well as a loyalty scheme, which also sees customers receive a card on their birthday. The shop sponsors a local football team, and staff organise an Easter Egg hunt for 1,000 local schoolchildren, as well as the nativity at the townâ€™s annual Christmas Fayre.