Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Mommy Shops At...

Take a look at these adorable kids sent in by one of our store's biggest fans! Make sure you read what their shirts say too...Thanks for sharing & shopping Sara, Cassidy & Parker!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Featured in Southern Living Magazine

We are pleased to announce that we will now carry k. hall designs products in our store in Chester, Virginia. Their products were recently featured in Southern Living Magazine and we were very fortunate to be able to meet Kelley and have her personally help us with our first order of her products while at the New York Gift Fair recently. Read more about Kelley, her business story and her products below. (Photo: Left, Elizabeth Howard, owner of The Cordial Cricket with Kelley Hall, right owner of k. hall designs at NY Gift show booth)

Kelley Hall-Barr & John Barr - The people behind k. hall designs She’s the creative spirit; he’s the businessman. She’s the visionary; he’s the planner. Together, Kelley Hall-Barr and husband John Barr have succeeded in building a beautifully balanced business union called k. hall designs, which specializes in aromatic bath, body and home care products, including reed diffusers, candles, sheet sprays, perfumes, bath gels and salts, shea butter lotions and triple milled soaps made from high quality essential oils and other natural ingredients. Soon to be celebrating its 12th anniversary, k. hall designs is located in a charming 1940s- Deco-style warehouse in Brentwood, MO. The building serves as both company headquarters as well as houses an expanded (and busy) 2000 sq. ft. retail store.

Inside the delightful space, Kelley’s unique style is everywhere in evidence, from the ambrosial scents that waft through the air to the earthy, classically hip décor, including linen bedding, table linens, pottery and a blend of unusual gifts. But it is John’s capable and personable style of management that has allowed Kelley’s creative talents to truly blossom and come to fruition. In fact, under John’s leadership, the line has reached national prominence, receiving kudos from both regional and national publications for the quality of the products and scents as well as the elegant, timeless simplicity of the packaging. At the same time, the Barrs have also developed an impressive client list that ranges from trend-setting boutiques to major retail players such as The Cordial Cricket in Chester, Virginia.

Have You Ever Seen Anything So Precious?

I am so thrilled to be able to offer all of our adorable baby shoppers at The Cordial Cricket, these precious new personalized outfits and accessories! Available in many different color combinations and in styles for both little girls and little boys, these outfits can be personalized with a monogram, name or initial. They also have coordinating diaper covers, burp cloths and bibs that can all be personalized too!

And for the bigger kids, we will also have personalized crayon aprons, crayon tool belts and travel art caddies. Come see and order these great new gift ideas, which will all be on display at our birthday party this Saturday, August 29th from 10:00 - 6:00. Read more about the party here.

Meet My New Friend, Wanda Webb

(Left-Wanda Webb, owner of Wanda Webb Jewelry,
Right-Elizabeth Howard, owner of The Cordial Cricket)

Wanda Webb is one of my new most favorite people! After meeting Wanda at the New York Gift Fair, seeing her gorgeous jewelry and getting to know her wonderful personality, I knew that I had an instant friend and my customers had many new favorite accessories to wear.

Wanda Webb stepped in to meet the needs of customers by creating her own line of playful, colorful jewelry, and Wanda Webb Jewelry was born in 1982. The mediums they use have included beads of glass, sterling, wood, semi-precious stone, and Swarovski crystal, pearls, textiles such as ribbon and leather, sterling charms, pendants, and sterling chain. Wanda is the picture of a southern lady and really cares about her customers. I would love for all of you to be able to meet her and you just might, since we are talking about having her come to our store for a trunk show of all of her jewelry.

Wanda's sterling silver engraved jewelry line includes hundreds of pieces and is very affordable. It ships from their facility the next day after the order is placed and takes approximately 2 business days to reach our store in Virginia, making this our fastest turn-around for engraved jewelry and gifts! The jewelry display has already arrived and is set up in the store now for all to see. Come by soon to select your new Wanda Webb jewelry.

Ben's Garden

We are pleased to introduce Ben's Garden handcrafted products to our customers. Arriving this week, we will be carrying several designs of Ben's glass paperweights, note pads, glass trinket trays and wall plaques as well as his beautiful nature inspired glass magnets. Come party with us on Saturday, August 29th when the new Ben's Garden display will be revealed for all to enjoy! These items feature wonderful inspirational quotes & messages and are made by Ben in his studio in New York. They will make wonderful gifts for your wonderful friends! Read more about Ben below.

Ben Busko has always drawn inspiration from the gardens surrounding him. Raised in Setauket, New York on Long Island, his mother and father, art gallery proprietors, introduced him to gardening with a small herb garden when he was 4 years old. Ben carefully arranged his garden plot, and propagated his plants for sale to family and friends. As Ben’s garden grew larger, so did his passion for gardening.

Ben started BEN’S GARDEN when he was just 8 years old, selling a small collection of decoupage crafts inspired by his garden. With persistence he developed account relationships with Smith & Hawken and the New York Botanical Garden. Impressive sales demonstrated the strong demand for his unique range.

Today, Ben Busko, 24, has a small staff of artists to assist with production of his signature BEN’S GARDEN designs. They use artisan techniques honored for centuries, in his Studio steps from the most fabled Gold Coast Harbor, in Oyster Bay, N.Y. on Long Island. His ever-expanding collection includes coasters, stationery, paperweights, artwork, decoupage trays and platters -all inspired by the charm in vintage papers, botanical prints & the antique curiosities he patiently unearths.

Ben’s celebrated BEN’S GARDEN stores bring a fresh perspective to America’s favorite passion. The stores feature his favorite things: unusual plants, myrtle topiaries, one-of-a-kind, vintage furniture, antiques, artwork, home accessories, garden instruments, garden ornaments, and beautiful books to lose an afternoon in. Stroll in to the sounds of a French café or preview the new store collections while sipping a mojito at our anticipated store events.

His prized designs are available through his 2 retail stores and upscale specialty retailers worldwide, such as The Cordial Cricket in Chester, Virginia. BEN’S GARDEN, the magazine column appears the beginning of every season in @Home Magazine. BEN’S GARDEN and his designs have recently been featured in InStyle and House & Garden magazines.

NY Gift Show & Our Birthday Party

We recently travelled to New York City to attend the New York International Gift Fair, where we researched many new lines for our store. We pride ourselves on finding products to sell in our store that our customers cannot find anywhere else locally. So far, we have been very successful with meeting this goal and we often enjoy comments from our customers about how unique our merchandise is. One of the things that I love the most about owning a small business is meeting other small business owners. I enjoy working with smaller vendors who offer high quality products, made in the US and offer me the opportunity to meet and get to know the business owner, who is often the creative mind behind all of the products. We were able to do just this at NYIGF and I wanted to share with you the stories of some of the new vendors that you will find in our store beginning this week. Watch our upcoming blog posts about the great fellow business owners we met.

We will be introducing many new lines at our store, and will have a lot of them on display for our upcoming event next Saturday, August 29th. Come out and celebrate our Chester store's 1st birthday with us from 10:00 to 6:00. Enjoy cake, party favors, a huge patio sale with merchandise up to 60% OFF and SWAG bags for the first 30 customers to arrive at the party! Come early, bring a few friends, enjoy some great free stuff and our great sale all while getting the first look at all of our new merchandise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Latest Press


Chester, Virginia - August 19, 2009

The Cordial Cricket, a specialty retail store located in Chester, Virginia, was recently selected as a finalist in two categories of this year’s national Retailer Excellence Awards (REA). The four-year-old stationery and gift shop was selected among entries from across the country as one of two finalists in the Retail Internet Innovator category and one of three finalists in the Marketing Achievement category. In both categories the store received a runner-up award.

The REA awards have been presented for the last 58 years by industry publication Gifts & Decorative Accessories Magazine to recognize high achievers and excellence in retail across the United States. The awards were presented this year at the REA gala, which took place on Sunday, August 16th, in New York City. The Cordial Cricket’s owner, Elizabeth Howard, and two of its employees attended the event, along with other REA finalists such as Vera Bradley’s CEO and founder, Barbara Baekgaard. In addition to being recognized at the awards gala, all of the finalists were featured in the current issue of the Gifts & Decorative Accessories’ nationwide publication.

Howard started her company in 2005 as a home-based stationery business producing custom invitations and stationery. Two years later she opened her first retail store selling stationery and gifts, along with custom invitations, in a 700-square-foot space in Petersburg, Virginia. After outgrowing the space, Howard moved her business to a brand new 1,954-square-foot store in Chester’s new Festival Park. At this time she changed the store’s name from Paper With Style to The Cordial Cricket, obtained a US Trademark for the store’s new name, and launched a new website ( to serve as an on-line store.

Howard’s on-line marketing efforts also include an emailed electronic newsletter and a blog that features information on new products, store events and product news, such as when a new bag line carried at The Cordial Cricket was featured on the ABC reality TV program, "The Bachelorette." She also stays strongly connected with her customers through the store’s Facebook page and with followers on Twitter.

This cross-promotional marketing strategy seems to be working to improve business across the board for The Cordial Cricket. Howard said her online store now ships orders all over the country and receives an increasing number of new, unique visitors each month. Her blog is receiving more traffic and comments every day. Her brick and mortar location is experiencing an increase in traffic. And her active customer list has increased 360 percent from 2007 to 2008.

With so many more retail and small businesses folding instead opening these days, Howard is optimistic about her store’s future. “The numbers are certainly pointing in the right direction,” she said, “with on-line and store traffic definitely up. But being recognized by national industry leaders for accomplishments in categories populated by retailers with much longer histories and stronger brand names than The Cordial Cricket, is not only an honor, but a strong signal that our marketing efforts are on target.”

To celebrate their success and thank their customers, Howard has planned a birthday party for their Chester store, which they will have occupied for one year on August 29th. The party, which will be held on Saturday, August 29th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, will feature cake, party hats, a patio sale with discounts up to 60 percent off and displays of many new products. The first 30 customers that day will also receive SWAG bags filled with free merchandise from some of The Cordial Cricket’s largest vendors.

“Everyone talks about what the celebrities get in their SWAG bags at the Oscars and the Emmys, so I want our customers to enjoy feeling like celebrities too,” stated Howard. “Honestly, it is the least we can do for such great cheerleaders of our business.”

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For more information or media inquiries contact Elizabeth Howard at:



Email <>


The Cordial Cricket

3524 Festival Park Plaza

Chester, VA 23831


Saturday, August 15, 2009

NY City Here We Come!

That's right we are headed to NY City in the wee hours of the a.m. tomorrow. Our flight leaves at 6:00 a.m. which means a 4:45 a.m. or so arrival at the Richmond airport = little sleep tonight! We are very excited to be attending the New York International Gift Fair for the very first time. There will be over 2,900 vendors there showcasing their exciting new merchandise and over 40,000 people in attendance! We are also even more excited to attend the 58th Annual Retailer Excellence Awards at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, where we are a finalist in two categories! Please keep your fingers crossed for us as we attend the awards gala and find out if we win tomorrow night.

Don't you worry, we will be "tweeting" on Twitter and updating on Facebook to keep everyone aware of what's going on while we are in NYC, we will also be documenting our trip with our new Flip video camera and giving you a sneak preview of some of the awesome new merchandise we will be buying for the store! Stay tuned for more...and don't forget to follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook so that you can keep us with us during our travels!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our First Radio Show!

Yesterday we had the pleasure of being featured on a new radio show being sponsored by Whit Styles with Styles Bride Bootcamp. We discussed important timeline information, tips and etiquette regarding ordering wedding invitations and save the dates. You can listen to the replay of our radio show by visiting this link anytime. Please give it a listen for some valuable tips related to selecting your wedding invitations and stationery and leave us a comment on this post with your feedback to let us know what you thought of our radio debut! She also took a cool video tour of our store as well! Please take minute to view it here.

More about Styles Bride Bootcamp: Are you concerned about toning up those arms for that strapless dress, losing some pounds to fit into your perfect dress, or just maintaining your current weight for your big day?If so, then Styles Bride Bootcamp is now open to help you! Founded by Richmond native, Whit Styles, a certified personal trainer, they help you train with your dress in mind! They offer training in a premier boot camp training facility and can even offer gourmet healthy meals delivered to your home each week with certain packages. No other gym, trainer or boot camp in the Richmond, Virginia area helps brides with both their nutritional and fitness needs. Visit their brand new website for all of the information about their programs and packages. Be sure to tell Whit you saw it here!

Styles with The Cordial Cricket 8/13/2009 - WhitSTYLES on Blog Talk RadioSource: tinyurl.comEssential Tips and Tricks Before Buying Your Wedding Invitations Aug 13 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Have You Flipped Over The Flip?

Many of you have already heard about the great new, tiny video camera device known as the Flip. We have read lots of reviews about them as we are considering getting one for our store to capture events, customer testimonials and trips that we take in order to share them online with our customers afterwards. We recently ran across a stellar review about the Flip from Click here to read all about it!

Sounds like a must-have for any bride to document her wedding story, honeymoon and happily ever after for years to come! Leave us a comment here to tell us if you have a Flip and if you have "flipped" over yours. Give us your tips and tell us how you most enjoy your Flip! Help us decide..should we get a Flip or not? You never know, we may feature your filming tips in a future Wednesday Wedding Tips e-zine for other brides to read.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Only 6 Days Left...

Until our monumental trip to NYC!! If you haven't been following us on Facebook or Twitter or reading our blog lately, then you should have no idea what I am referring to. So, to get you all caught up in the suspense with us, read our previous post here about our upcoming trip to NYC, the awards gala, what we might win and the New York Gift Show. Stay tuned to find out the results of our trip...we can't wait to share the news with you and tell you all about the new products that we will pick up for the store at the show.

In the meantime, keep up with us on Facebook and become of a fan of The Cordial Cricket and/or follow us on Twitter ~ Tweet ya later!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shop Local, Be Vocal

Do us (and a few million other independent, small businesses) a favor this week. Shop locally at 3 independent locally owned stores in your area this week, preferably 3 whom you would never want to see disappear. Then, be vocal about it and comment on this post to tell us which 3 stores in your town that you chose!

Visit for more info on the shopping local movement!

We thank you in advance :)