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Monday, July 22, 2024

Lancashire couple are raising a glass to their award winning drinks business

An entrepreneurial couple from Blackpool in Lancashire are celebrating their online drinks gift business A Toast in the Post, after it sells more than 3,500 drinks and wins two national awards in six months.

David and Jane Charnley have worked in the events industry for more than 20 years and set up the online gift company last year, when realising the extended long-term impact COVID-19 would have on their exhibitions and wedding businesses – creating a much-needed lifeline and focus for them in difficult times.

A Toast in the Post allows people to celebrate the special moments in life when they cannot be together by sending a drink of your choice through the post together with a personalised photo message card.

The couple have just sent their 3500th drink and won Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis’ national Small Business Sunday (SBS) award. ‘A Toast in the Post’ has also had other celebrity endorsements, with Britain’s Got Talent start Amanda Holden praising their venture when being sent a toast for her 50th birthday, as well as winning the national Women of Wednesday (WOW) award, set up by Jaqueline Gold of Ann Summers.

David said: “It’s been a whirlwind six months, seeing daily orders triple from our original expectations and trying to keep up with demand for people wanting to let loved ones know they are thinking about them in these difficult times.

“It’s not been easy – we’ve gone from running an exhibition and a wedding business for more than two decades, to setting up an e-commerce website in a few months, with all hands on deck sourcing 100 per cent recyclable packaging, the right miniature alcoholic drinks and posting from our storage cupboard in our Blackpool warehouse. But seeing sales grow and winning a national award by a well-renowned Dragon’s Den entrepreneur certainly makes all the long nights of packing worth it.”

Jane thought of ‘A Toast in the Post’ on a car journey two years ago when she was unable to attend a close relative’s funeral and thought it would be nice to send the family his favourite drink with a message and a treasured photo of him, to celebrate his life when she couldn’t be there in person.

“The idea has been with us ever since,” Jane adds. “But with our successful exhibition stand business and my wedding table plan business, the time was never right. Neither of our industries are back on their feet yet, so we are so pleased we took the plunge and turned the pandemic into something more positive. Both for us as business owners, but also in being able to help keep the nation connected through sending personal sentiments when people couldn’t be together.

“Coming out of lockdown, online sales are very much here to stay and it’s lovely seeing a rise in engagement and wedding greetings returning. We also have more and more companies enquiring for corporate gifts, sending hundreds of colleagues A Toast in the Post to celebrate the successes of their workforce.”

The couple met at university and launched straight into their exhibitions business, LoveExpo, in 1997 building bespoke stands for national and international clients at large trade shows. They invested and moved in to new purpose-built premises in Blackpool in March 2020, just as the pandemic hit.

A Toast in the Post went live in November 2020. Every order has the option to have bespoke photos added, as well as personalised greetings and David and Jane are constantly building the selection of drinks available, including those from local artisan producers such as Lytham Gin and internationally renowned Black Powder Gin.

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