‘We never intended for it to be a massive success’: Card shop owner starts lockdown deliveries

Pete Hall has been cycling, crafting and tweeting his way through lockdown and his optimism for the future of indie business remains unwavering

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Bicycle card deliveries have kept Pete busy during the firebreak lockdown (Credit – Pete Hall)

Being 25 years in to running a card and gift shop, Halls of Llandaff owner Pete Hall, 58, has had very little opportunity to stop and enjoy the little things in life.

As a people’s person through and through, Pete’s happy-go-lucky nature and ability to establish genuine connection is clear – even from the other end of a Zoom call.

Priding his business on the power of human interaction and service, not even a pandemic could convince him to take his stock into the realm of online retail.

“My daughter and my wife think I should go online but I am a bit scared because I don’t know enough about it. I’m just an old fashion retailer,” he says.

However, when his daughter suggested a card delivery service to get them through October’s firebreak lockdown, it was a welcome compromise.

Taking orders from those living locally in the Llandaff area, customers contacted Pete over email with the kind of cards they were after. He then jumped on his bike with a bag containing a selection of options to choose from, and delivered them.

Pete describes the service as more of a helping hand to the community for those who “got caught out”, and despite only taking a few hundred pounds from the venture, has enjoyed getting out to cycle.

“It’s just been a bit of fun really – we never intended the delivery thing to be a massive success.

“Although, I have cheated a couple of times and taken them in the car,” he laughs.

A Twitter personality

With an almost 5,000-strong following and being the only social media platform used for the shop, Pete sees Twitter as an opportunity to share light-hearted content and make people smile.

While humbly talking about his “addiction” to Twitter, his wife steps in to say: “He wouldn’t admit it but lots of his Twitter followers love his feed because it’s very, very funny,”

He chuckles and waves it off.

“We have a bit of fun on Twitter so it’s not all about promotion. Nobody likes too much promotion.”

Aside from taking the world of tweeting by storm, Pete has an infectious sense of positivity for the future.

Halls of Llandaff, located on Llandaff High Street, is open Monday to Saturday and sells a large range of novelty cards and gifts.

While independents have taken a hit in the last few months, he believes the power of personal service is strong and is their biggest chance in fighting back.

“I think there will always be a market for us,” he says.

“As long as you create the right environment, and make it an experience for people, they will still continue to visit.”

Pete has run Halls of Llandaff for the past 25 years and is not thinking of retiring any time soon
(Credit – Pete Hall)
The pandemic has forced small businesses to get creative (Credit – Pete Hall)

Taking a step-back

Kicked out of school at 15 with very few qualifications, Pete began running the shop, first established by his mother in 1979, in the mid-1990s.

As a self-proclaimed workaholic, the first lockdown in March turned out to be a welcome relief from the intense pressures of being self-employed.

I think 2020 has taught me that life isn’t all about work, work, work all the time

Alongside running and crafting, a particular highlight was the quality time he spent with autistic son Tommy – something he felt he didn’t do enough of before lockdown. 

Pete’s attitude to work has also shifted as a result of the pandemic, and although retirement is not on the cards, slowing down certainly is.

“I think 2020 has taught me that life isn’t all about work, work, work all the time,” he says.

“I don’t know why I do because I don’t need a lot of money. You know?”

Quick fire Q+A:

What is the single biggest thing that got you through lockdown?

Television at night and tools in the day. So overall I’d say tools.

What’s the best thing that has happened to you in the last six months?

The best thing has been having the family around me because I’ve always been working.

What’s the worst thing?

My mother was really quite ill and I thought that was it. She’s rock hard but at one stage she was really poorly – I honestly thought she was going. She’s my business partner so I see her every day. But, no, she’s fine now and back to her usual critical self.

Best thing you watched during lockdown

Into the Wild – directed by Sean Penn. It’s on Sky. It was a brilliant film and I actually read the book after that. It’s definitely worth a read.

One thing you learnt from lockdown

That I can take time off. Because when you’re self-employed, you don’t think you can.

Top tip for staying positive during these times

Try to get out in the fresh air and get outdoors. I think no matter what the weather, as long as you can get your daily exercise, it really does help.