With the holidays approaching, we checked in with Linda Arruda and Susan Curtis at Paper, Packaging and Panache to get some seasonal inspiration. The co-owners, fresh from celebrating their 20th anniversary in October, shared trends, hostess gift ideas and tips for wrapping.
Paper, Packaging and Panache just celebrated its 20th anniversary in October. How did the business get started?
We met in a small business class in the winter of 1996. Susan had a love of all things paper and making greeting cards, and also needed a new adventure. Linda needed a retirement opportunity within a few years. That led us to start the business along with advice from the instructor, John Nelson, who was encouraging and very helpful.
How has the store changed over two decades? How has it stayed the same?
Throughout the years stationery has been influenced by technology and communication, and by the increase of more and more greeting card outlets, like supermarkets, drug stores, florist shops and everything in between. So we decided we had to open our offerings a bit.
When a neighboring toy store unfortunately closed its doors a few years ago it offered us an opportunity to build our baby department. We started with baby announcements, shower invites and gifts, and since then we have expanded our children’s toy and clothing offerings to meet an ever-growing local need. Our customers are our best source of what to carry. We pride ourselves in going the extra mile to please them and like to think that is what has kept us in business for 20 years.
How has Bristol changed over the years?
We see more tourists every year. More parents of college students and out-of-staters whose children and grandchildren are now living here and falling in love with the East Bay – the easy to navigate downtown, the bike path, the local history, the mansions, the state park and all the amenities. It’s a beautiful, safe, small, friendly hometown with so much to do.
The holidays are coming and so are holiday parties. What makes for a good hostess gift?
We carry Caspari napkins that can be personalized, Sweenor’s Chocolates that have been locally made for over 60 years and lots of RI branded items.
You’ve supported a lot of local artists over the years. Tell us more.
We think it is very important to support the local artists as much as possible. For 18 years prior to [opening] this store, Susan made greeting cards and sold them all over New England. It was so disappointing to take them to a store and not be given the chance to even try them there knowing that they were selling well close by. We really enjoy talking with newbies to the selling community and sharing our experiences. Hopefully we can offer some tips on how to go from artist to marketer, something that’s often hard to do. Our customers really like the local flavor; it’s something they can’t find anywhere else and something familiar, like our local cards.
Who doesn’t love a beautifully wrapped gift? What are your top tips for gift-wrapping?
Choose a quality paper, one that reflects on the person to whom the gift is being given. Be neat and match the bow with the paper.
What sort of trends are you seeing with invitations?
A bit more casual and more representative of the host rather than strictly traditional etiquette. Inviters are having fun with all of the now-available processes like foiling, letterpress, thermography and flat digital with its large array of multi-color inks and layering. Anything is possible, have fun with it!
Paper, Packaging and Panache
418 Hope Street, Bristol