In 1910 an 18 year old entrepreneur named J Clyde Hall, arrived by train in Kansas City, Missouri from Nebraska. He had empty pockets and two shoe boxes filled with picture postcards that he was planning on selling in the wholesale market.
At the turn of the century, postcards were all the rage, much like the way we Tweet or email a quick shout out today – back then they would jot a short note on a postcard and mail to friends. People not only mailed tons of postcards they also collected them and the young JC Hall was going to capitalize on the postcard phenomenon! JC quickly made a name for himself selling picture postcards and being a smart entrepreneur he knew he had to stay ahead of changing consumer trends. As postcard sales declined, JC and his brother Rollie who had joined in the business, recognized the public’s desire for more privacy in their communication, so they started offering high-quality Valentines and Christmas cards mailed in envelopes. In 1915, the brothers purchased printing presses and began producing their own greeting cards. Hall Brothers greeting cards was born. In 1917 the innovative brothers started adding more products. They “invented” paper gift wrap to improve on the traditional colored tissue that had been used to wrap gifts.
JC was also a clever marketer. He loved the word Hallmark since it meant a mark of quality and excellence plus it included his family name! In 1928 the company began marketing its brand as Hallmark with this name on the back of every card.
Another brilliant move by JC was his invention of his “Eye Vision” greeting card displays, which took cards out of shop drawers and put them on the display racks where people could easily see and read them! Still the way we all shop for greeting cards today – this innovation for card displays by JC Hall has a company patent too.
In 1944, during a brainstorming session, a sales and marketing executive at Hallmark, CE Goodman, scribbled down his thoughts on a 3×5 card on what Hallmark stood for – When you care enough the send the very best. A slogan we all recognize today as Hallmark cards.
Today Hallmark Cards is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, the same city were young JC began with his picture postcard sales. Hallmark products are conceived by teams of product managers, creative artists, and skilled engineers here. Everything is designed by an in-house staff of 700 artists, designers, writers, illustrators, editors, animators and photographers.
About 80% (cards that require beads or tassels are made in Asia) of the greeting cards are produced in the USA by Hallmark employees in Hallmark facilities as well as party plates, cups, napkins, gift wrap, ribbons, bows and stickers. US Production facilities are in: Kansas; Texas; Georgia; Connecticut; Illinois; and Missouri. Hallmark products can be found at more than 38,000 retail outlets domestically and online at Hallmark.com. The company publishes in 30 languages, and its products are available in more than 100 countries around the globe.
Grandsons of founder JC Hall, Donald and David Hall, continue the legacy of strong family leadership and innovation. Don steers the company as president and CEO, while Dave leads Hallmark’s North American businesses, including wholesale and retail operations.
I think that style comes in all forms and what could be more stylish or thoughtful than a lovely card with a handwritten note and mailed to someone special. Until next time have a Happy Valentines Day and as always happy shopping Made in the USA!