Wednesday, August 19, 2009

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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:



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The Cordial Cricket

3524 Festival Park Plaza

Chester, VA 23831



Chris @ Celebrations At Home said...

Fantastic Article!

Lisa Anne said...

That's a great article. Congrats, I know this is a big deal for you.