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An interview with Michelle from Card Shack!

Posted on 22 Sep 2023

Card Shack, the Arcade's purveyors of independent greeting card excellence, are five years old this November - a milestone for anyone, especially an independent shop! We had a chat with Michelle, the founder and owner of Card Shack, to celebrate the anniversary - and find out a little more about what makes Card Shack tick.


Hi Michelle - happy anniversary. Why don't you fill us in on how Card Shack got started?

I’ve always worked in town - since I was 16 - I’ve always worked with gifts and cards. I’ve done it for about 12 years. I really enjoyed the two jobs that I had in town, and the customers that were coming in were constantly asking for stuff. In my position, because I’d worked my way up to management, I was able to order it in. The sales were doing really well, I could’ve stayed there ‘til retirement – I really enjoyed my job.

But then as the years went on, things changed. Ordering got tougher, I wasn’t allowed to order as much stuff in, sales were dropping, customers were leaving empty-handed. Then, over time, ordering just got completely taken away, and then we were allocated stock. The shop was not how I wanted it, customers were leaving... Commuting to work, I was walking past empty units all the time.

I rang my husband one day and said “Oh, I keep walking past this unit…” I sent him some photos and he was like “Nope! Too much work!”. He was totally against it – and I said “I think I’m gonna view it!”.

Then it just grew. I opened the shop with hardly any stock, then just kept listening to what people wanted – and just grew it from there.

What do you like about running your shop out of the Arcade?

The shop just really attracted me – it just felt right. A bit like viewing a house, you know? When it just feels right.

Then I came and viewed it and everyone was lovely, all the tenants were nice, asking if I needed any help. Since I’ve been here it’s been great, because Bristol Shopping Quarter and the BID (Business Improvement District) pop in, security pops in, the landlord pops in. Everyone’s really friendly and welcoming.

What do you think is important about independent shopping?

You’re just supporting little businesses really. So, I like the fact that my shop is all about bringing locally made stuff into the town centre because a lot of smaller, independent makers aren’t VAT-registered, so they find it hard to get into bigger shops. I’m trying to put my money and time into those people to give them a chance.

Customers come in, and they always compliment the range, and that they don’t see it anywhere else – and they’re happy to buy it because they appreciate how much detail and hard work has gone into making it.

It’s also just interesting stock choice as well – you can get away with having so much more of a range of stuff than just the mass-produced stuff out there.

5. What’s your favourite genre of card?

Funny. Bright, colourful and funny. If it makes me laugh, I order it in. Or if you mean type of celebration – Valentine’s. Valentine’s is interesting – you get lots of good, funny ones.

How do you find and work with independent makers?

A lot of people either come in and chat with me, or people write to me on Instagram. There are trade fairs, but I try to stay away from them, because they’re in London, and usually big corporate companies. Local markets, events, Paintworks. Or just when me and the team are out shopping and see something cool we’ll just take a picture of their details.

If you were Mayor of Bristol for the day, what would you do?

I would definitely make use of the space. There’s so much space outside, why not provide free – or low-cost – opportunities for independent businesses to have a stall once a month, and have more fairs, spaces, opportunities for people to sell and just get out there. But without charging the bomb – just to give people more opportunity. And, it would give younger minds more incentive to get out there and make things, and sell it.

Thanks, Michelle.

If you want to shop for the perfect independently made card, gift or wrapping paper for a loved one, Card Shack is open from 10-18:00 Monday-Saturday, and 10-17:00 on Sunday. For more info, check out their page on our website, their Facebook, or you can browse their collection online.


Where to Find Us

Main Map The Arcade, Bristol, City of Bristol BS1 3JD0117 214 0098

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