Jigsaw puzzles are a quarantine hit. This puzzle-maker hopes that continues after the pandemic.
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When COVID-19 forced the U.K. into quarantine last year, many people turned to an old pastime: jigsaw puzzles. In fact, puzzles proved so popular that the industry saw a shortage, along with booming sales. Julie Wilkins runs JHG Jigsaws, LTD in the U.K. She told her story to our partners at the BBC.
My name is Julie Wilkins and I’m a director with my partner, Brian Knight, of JHG Jigsaws Limited.
Neither of us had a puzzle background. I was a bank manager, Brian was a builder. And then when I left the bank, I went and worked for a gentleman who had his own jigsaw puzzle company, and enjoyed it so much we set up our own, bought him out with his consent (he was getting into his seventies, eighties). And then in 2008, we went into manufacturing.
I’m very traditional, so I’m selling a lot of nostalgic things like farm yards and street scenes, and I do a lot of what people would call chocolate box cottages. And that seems to be, for me, very popular. There are other companies out there doing other sorts of different things. You can get caricatures. You can get record sleeve puzzles. But generally, for me, my traditional image-type puzzles are going the best.
We started to see a big increase in sales February, March before lockdown when COVID was in its infancy last year. And we hit lockdown as we went into Mother’s Day, and we normally see an increase for Mother’s Day, but it never stopped increasing.
Although I know COVID has hit a lot of businesses very hard, it’s been very kind to us in the jigsaw world. I think it will slow down. But I think people have suddenly found something that they enjoyed as children and I think people will have found, rekindled, a love for it. I just think they will continue to be popular. I hope they will.
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