LIMA — Since 2013, the $7 billion American greeting card industry has experienced a five percent decline due to a digital transition, according to IBISWORLD. Despite the decline, two Lima-area professionals have managed to flourish, while others have gone out of business.
Steve Brunner, owner of Readmore’s Hallmark shop at 3330 W Elm St., admits that his business, as well as others, have been strongly affected by the decline as box stores have become a competitor.
Over the years, he witnessed several Hallmarks go out of business, including the one at the American Mall. There are currently six Readmore Hallmark locations in the region, with three in Lima on Elm Street, Harding Highway and Flanders Avenue.
“As far as cards go, it’s been a struggle for forever because everyone sells cards,” Brunner said. “You have your dollar stores that cover your low-end greeting cards, and Rite Aid and Menards have cards which has become a convenience for people picking up groceries.”
One of the reasons why Brunner said his family business has stayed in business as long as it has because unlike some retail stores, his store offers a wide selection of quality cards.
“The people who want a nice card with their gift care about what it says inside,” Brunner said. “That’s where we win out on selling cards against our competitors.”
Customers can find a variety of card brands as low as 99 cents all the way to $8.
“We do fight the impression of Hallmark being too expensive,” Brunner said. “People complain about our card price. But, if they’re looking for a specific card, they’re not going to find it at a lower price.”
Another reason Brunner said his family business has been able to survive for more than 30 years is because they offer more than just cards.
The 1,400-square-foot store offers books, magazines, flowers, bereavement gifts, the Vera Bradley line, jewelry, clothing accessories and more. By November, he will begin selling Pura Vida bracelets.
“I’ve seen so many Hallmark stores go out of business,” said Brunner. “If you’re just a card store, you’re not going to survive.”
Sheila Custer, a relationship marketer for SendOutCards, spent many years shopping at Hallmark as she enjoyed sending out cards to family and friends.
On average she would spend about $40 to $60 every two week on cards and received about three $20 gift cards a year from Hallmark for her purchases.
Because of her love of greeting cards, she decided to invest in the SendOutCards online network marketing business six years ago. She decided to invest in an online business as opposed to an actual store because it allowed people to have more options.
Through the SendOutCards website or app, customers can order a card online, add elements like photos and the system will send it out in the mail. Card prices depend on the card size and content.
“We don’t have time to go to the store, by the stamps and mail out the card,” said Custer. “Everyone is so busy. If someone wanted to send out a card, they may forget. But with using technology they can click send today and it will be sent off by the following morning.”
Custer admits that even though online card services like SendOutCards make it convenient for people to communicate with those that they love or to network, she knows that people would prefer to use social media.
“We don’t celebrate each other anymore,” Custer said. “We either like something or message something on Facebook, and that’s it. We always want it fast and that is where technology has come in.”
Custer hopes that over the years more people will understand and value the importance of sending out greeting cards.
The largest group that benefits from sending cards are the Realtors and car sales professionals because it helps them build their portfolio with their clients, according to Custer. Overall she said sending cards benefits everyone.
“Sending cards is all about building the relationships and celebrating others,” Custer said.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews