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Archive for Tuesday, October 9, 2001

s Hallmark plant gets special order

October 9, 2001

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The plant, at 101 McDonald Drive, this week will run a special order of 1 million cards that carry patriotic themes.

Although only about 30 of Hallmark's 900 employees in Lawrence will be handling the latest run, the entire plant feels a part of the healing process in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York, Washington and in Pennsylvania.

The cards should reach stores by the end of next week.

"Americans come together to support our country in times of national crisis," said Mark Garrett, plant manager. "Our employees are proud to be a part of this patriotic movement."

The run of new cards will feature the U.S. flag, an American eagle, the Statue of Liberty and verses thanking members of the military for their service. All will be produced in Lawrence, one of Hallmark's five major production plants.

The 36-hour run will produce 18 different styles of cards -- six under each of the company's three card labels: Hallmark, Expressions from Hallmark and Ambassador. The run will be added to the plant's normal weekly production of up to 12 million cards, Garrett said.

Rachel Bolton, a Hallmark spokesperson, said that card sales dropped immediately after hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside. But within a week, Hallmark's card sales were on the rebound.

By month's end overall sales were 4 percent above pre-attack levels, Bolton said, while sales of cards for sympathy and concern were up 10 percent to 14 percent.

Sales for Hallmark's established "Fresh Ink" line -- which includes one card with a blue eagle on the front and a message of finding "peace, repose, release" in memories -- jumped 35 percent, she said. A three-month supply of blank U.S. flag cards sold out within a week.

Hallmark is working to be sure that it continues to meet demands. Four new cards will be available in boxed sets for Christmas.

"I personally hope we have entered a patriotic phase in this country," said Irv Hockaday, the company's president and chief executive officer. "I think that's been lacking for a while in America. If Hallmark can help support that with its product we will."

Hallmark competitor American Greetings Corp. also plans to have new cards and accessories in stores by mid-October, with new Christmas ornaments available by mid-November.

The company will offer 38 cards, some geared toward Veterans' Day on Nov. 11 and others with verses specifically mentioning Sept. 11, said Laurie Henrichsen, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland-based company.

"With the sudden demand for cards, they had to be turned around in record time," Henrichsen said. "But our people were really clamoring to work on this project. Both our creative and manufacturing people have put in hours of overtime to do this."

Unlike other businesses, greeting card companies may be immune to consumer criticism about responding to a perceived market created by the attacks.

"If consumers are going to those stores to buy something, they aren't going to be thinking about any ulterior motive," said Carrie Heilman, an assistant professor at the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Associated Press contributed information to this report.

-- Business editor Mark Fagan can be reached at 832-7188.

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