Lawrence is home to hundreds of Hallmark employees who work at one of Hallmark’s major production centers for Hallmark cards, Hallmark ribbons, Hallmark bows and Hallmark-brand stickers.
But the city no longer is home to a Hallmark Gold Crown store.
The former Rod’s Hallmark at 2329 Iowa now operates as Rod’s Cards & Gifts, a change effective two weeks ago for the entire 10-store Rod’s chain, which includes shops from Manhattan to St. Joseph, Mo.
Employees and management at the Lawrence store referred questions to the office of owner Rod Henning, who has been unavailable for comment. While the office voicemail still answers as “Rod’s Hallmark,” Henning’s chain no longer is receiving deliveries from Hallmark and instead is looking into offering cards and other products from either American Greetings or Designer Greetings.
“It was a personal decision with Rod,” said Taylor Wallace, a supervisor at the Manhattan store.
The Rod’s stores are selling out of their remaining inventories of Hallmark cards, wrapping paper and other items.
Rod’s has several stores in and around Kansas City, Mo., where Hallmark Cards Inc. has its corporate headquarters; Rod’s also has a store in Leavenworth, where Hallmark has a plant that makes Hallmark bags and other party items.
Within the past year, Rod’s closed its store in Topeka, where Hallmark has another production center.
While Hallmark sells cards through “mass channels” — such as supermarkets, drugstores and other retailers — in Lawrence and elsewhere, its Gold Crown stores are considered the premier channel for distributing its cards, gifts and other items for decorating and entertaining. There are more than 3,000 Gold Crown stores in the United States, of which 385 are owned by Hallmark itself.
Linda Odell, a Hallmark spokeswoman, said she could not comment about any individual retailer but acknowledged that Hallmark would look into opportunities to return the Gold Crown flag to Lawrence, which has had a production plant at 101 McDonald Drive since 1958.
“Anytime a store closes, we are always looking at the location and what the business and consumer needs are to see whether it is feasible to put in another Hallmark Gold Crown store,” Odell said. “Clearly, if there’s Hallmark Gold Crown business to be done, we would like to do that.”