Saint-Etienne’s Quirkiest Gift Shop

In Saint-Étienne, Sylvain Bruyere launched Cadeau Maestro, a gift shop that perpetuates a timeless custom with a touch of originality.

By Fédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

LIFE Photo Collection

Gift offering has always helped to strengthen social ties. The Romans exchanged terracotta figurines with each other during the Saturnalia and Sigillaire festivals, the festive period corresponding to the end of the year. 

For the tradition of Saint Nicholas, children received sweets in the 12th century. It was replaced in the 19th century by an orange, which was a rare fruit at that time. Christmas toys only appeared with the beginnings of consumer society and the Parisian department stores. Today, Cadeau Maestro brings its own touch of humour and originality to the tradition. 

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A fun concept 

Cadeau Maestro was created in 2008. Sylvain Bruyere started it with some computer skills… but no experience in business. He first launched a website in his room and remembers preparing orders on the bed. 

Cadeau MaestroFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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He only sells quirky objects that will make people smile. The idea behind the project came from his personal experience: Sylvain and Charline had been a couple for a few years and used to give each other a gift every month to celebrate their anniversary. After a while, they run out of ideas and went for more original options. 

Boutique OctobreFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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Because he likes doing things in an unusual way, the opening of a store only came after the e-commerce was launched. While Sylvain was in the basement preparing packages for internet orders, Charline was greeting customers on the ground-floor boutique. 

EquipeFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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The development  

"We imagined too naively that business is simple and obvious". From window dressing to inventory, the couple learned everything on the job. They took training courses, and progressed thanks to customer feedback: 

Initially located on rue Notre Dame, the store then moved to rue de la République, still in Saint-Étienne, which also welcomed the first employees. In less than two years, the team tripled in size! The store is now located rue Michelet. Bringing in a flow of shopping customers, the neighbourhood plays a key role in its success.

Cadeau MaestroFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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Originality above all 

Cadeau Maestro works with 150 suppliers who produce, create and design objects. It is rare to find so many brands in the same store. "We attract the customer when he doesn't know what to offer, our idea is to fill that gap”. To do so, the selection is varied: delicatessen, board games, high-tech products... 

Over the years, they focused on promoting Made in France and eco-designed objects. Customers value ethical approaches: they like to offer gifts without impacting the planet.

MaevaFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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The concept is to be able to find gifts for anyone, and at any budget - prices range from 2 to 900 euros. Although the selection meets several criteria: the priority is to ensure that the item will make people smile.  

Despite the variety of products, it is impossible to showcase the entire offer in store - so can scan a sign with their phone to be redirected to the website. But the strength of the traditional commerce is to build customer relations, which e-commerce will never replace, according to Sylvain.

Maeva Saint ValentinFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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Knowing the customer 

Customers are loyal, and regularly come back for new gift ideas. "Very early on, they asked if we were a chain store," Sylvain laughs.  

The couple takes part in various retailer associations and events bringing life to the neighbourhood. Charline has been president of the Saint-Étienne merchants' association for several years. Sylvain also created an association dedicated to e-merchants in the Loire region, which now has about sixty members. 

MatthieuFédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

Plans for the future 

The couple has been working together for 12 years. Charline is in charge of human resources while Sylvain manages the technical part and development. They now have 11 employees on the e-commerce part. 

In parallel to Maestro Cadeau, they manage Camalo, a logistics subsidiary that prepares and dispatches orders for various retailers of small brands. Without neglecting the traditional trade: they are planning to open a second store very soon. 

Credits: All media
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