October 9, 2018 • Sarah Schwartz
“Brick and mortar, without an e-commerce presence, is still alive!” That lofty declaration comes from Megan and Cedar Watson, twin sisters and owners of Paper Goat Post (PGP) in Orlando, Florida. In just three years, they’ve managed to establish a stationery shop that is not only surviving, but thriving.
On the surface, PGP is like many a stationery shop: filled with an appealing mix of stationery, greeting cards and gifts, with invitation design services, workshops and events to boot. But the sisters’ combined 20 years in event management caused them to take a different approach than most.
At the heart of its success lies the twins’ three-pronged mission: promoting the lost art of snail mail, gathering in celebration and the thoughtful art of giving. This is actually Paper Goat Post’s brand story, explained Cedar. “Our shop is a mix of things we love: lots of paper and party! We knew our product mix would be hard to communicate to our customers, so we took this into consideration when developing our brand story. Our philosophy really helps explain in a simple way what we’re all about.”
Not only is it prominent in the store and website, it informs their entire approach and every decision they make. “Our PGP philosophies help us make business decisions,” noted Megan. “We can consider if things like product lines, charitable donations, brand partnerships, pop-up shops and so on are in line with our shop. Saying no becomes easier, and saying yes becomes even more exciting! We also find that so many of our customers are equally passionate about our philosophies as we are. They are connecting with our brand — not just the products we sell.”
Bells & Whistles
Not too many shops have their own bar — but PGP does, and although it has a menu, it’s filled with gift wrap and grab-and-go balloon options. “It’s always been a dream (of ours) to have a quick service ‘bar’ (but) we wanted it to feel like a true bar,” recalled Cedar. “The balloon bar has generated great word-of-mouth. These elements — whether a perfectly wrapped parcel or an oversized ‘Billy’ balloon — go to parties and really make a statement. It gets people talking and wanting. Like many elements of the shop, we’re passing on our passions to others. The PGP Balloon Bar does also allow us to deepen our existing sales; our customers find it VERY convenient that they can come grab a card, gift and get their wrapping done all in one spot.”
Meanwhile, their workshop space — AKA the Studio — is rented out for showers and dinner parties, which the sisters are happy to help out with. “Some customers simply need the space, where others really look to us for assistance with their entertaining needs, for example a first-time Maid of Honor,” described Megan. “We LOVE to share our entertaining and event planning expertise. We often have the opportunity to design the invitations (and) it’s always fun seeing an event through from start to finish. The PGP Studio has also been a space for us to host local events, pop-up shops and workshops. We love opening our space to the community.”
As for the “goat” in its name, it seemed like the ideal spirit animal for the shop, Cedar and Megan write on their site: “We fell in love with goats at an early age. I mean really, who doesn’t love them? They are playful, curious and love everything, well love to eat everything, and we love to celebrate everything. Clearly, a perfect match. Our founding year, 2015 also happens to be the year of the goat. So, why not?”
Speaking of 2015, they’ve learned a lot since then, Cedar emphasized. “Be flexible — it’s okay to adapt and change while still keeping to our core philosophies. We’ve pivoted in so many areas of business as we learned about what we enjoy and what our customers want.”
While they dream of expanding their team and perhaps opening another location within the next five years, for now you can find the sisters happily hanging out on Instagram at @papergoatpost. “We don’t get tied up in the data so much as to just be true to us, share what feels right and stay true to our PGP brand,” underlined Megan. “We also like to show up in our Instagram feed — we post pictures of us, hop on Instagram stories when we get giddy about new products and like to show our personality in our captions. Our growth on social media has been very organic and we’re so thankful for all those that follow along.”
The sisters’ special approach garnered them a coveted spot in the inaugural 40 Under 40 Class from Great American Media Services (that’s the parent company of this publication). Both definitely tried to learn what they could from their classmates. “A huge takeaway was realizing that it takes ALL of us to keep this industry going,” reflected Cedar. “We wouldn’t be successful without the industry leaders that have paved the way. Everyone in our class really gets that!”
To bring a little PGP magic into your venue, craft your own mission statement so that you can share your vision in black and white with your clientele. To get started, Megan recommended “really evaluating what your shop is all about, how you serve your customers, how do you connect with your customers. Think beyond the products you sell: What is the essence of your brand? That’s what you want to communicate in a brand story.”