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Monthly Event Highlights: Hallmark
May 1 - May 31
Hallmark cards are synonymous with greeting cards all over the world. What you might not know is that it started in Norfolk Ne. Brothers Joyce Clyde, William and Rollie Hall created postcards in 1907 for the Norfolk Post Card Company. Soon after, it became the Hall Brothers Book Store. In 1910, Joyce moved to Kansas City because Kansas City was known (then and now) as the transportation hub of the Midwest and “the place” to get your postcards shipped anywhere in the country. By 1912, the postcard craze began to fade so Joyce (JC) began to sell Christmas Letters and you guessed it, greeting cards. That same year the name was shortened to Norfolk Card Company.
In 1917, Joyce and Rollie began using fancy French envelope lining paper when they ran out of their normal tissue paper and are credited with “inventing” gift wrapping paper as we know it today. After using this paper, the next year they decided to create their own designs and started selling it at their stationary store. In 1922, they expanded their business from marketing Christmas cards to selling everyday greeting cards. They also decided to sell them nationwide. They expanded their staff from 4 to 120.
In 1928, the company introduced their new name, Hallmark, after the hallmark symbol used by goldsmiths in London in the 14th century. From that point until today, they have printed the name on the back of every card they produce. JC, as he was known, became the first greeting card company owner to start advertising nationally. Their first ad was in Ladies Home Journal, the copy was written by J C himself. In 1931 at the start of the Great Depression, Hallmark took on the Canadian card company, William Coutts Company as an affiliate and started their first international business venture.
In 1944 their current slogan, “When you care enough to send the very best” was created by C E Goodman, a sales and marketing executive for the company. That slogan was written on a 3×5 card that’s still on exhibit at the company corporate office in Crown Center. It wasn’t until 1954 that the company changed its name from Hall Brothers to Hallmark. The next great move for the company came in 1973 for the company when they began to create Christmas ornaments. By 1998, there were 11 million households who had collected their ornaments and 250,000 people were members of the Keepsake Ornament Collectors Club. In the 1980’s and ’90’s, Hallmark began to acquire some of the other card companies including American Greeting Cards and also began to offer brands within the corporate umbrella like Shoebox, Maxine and others.
Photo by Andrew Grumke, Kansas City Business Journal
Today the Hallmark Card Corporation is still privately owned and is still headquartered in the Urban Core. Crown Center is located on what used to be called “Signboard Hill”. It’s across the street from the main entrance to Union Station and when passengers would exit the station they would see all kinds of billboards perched on that hill. It’s the first thing they would see arriving in Kansas City. Although the station only has two trains a day serving Kansas City (a far cry from the over 100 trains a day 100 years ago), it’s still a destination for many visitors coming to our great city and Crown Center sits in the middle of it all.
I’m sure the Hall Family has had plenty of opportunities to move headquarters to the east and west coasts but have chosen to stay in Kansas City. The reasons could be many but it may be just as simple as, it’s a great place to raise families and create smiles on millions of people worldwide from the “Hub of the Nation”. Most visitors call it Kansas City, we call it home.
All the best,
Artist, Writer, Consummate Networker, & board member of KC’s Urban Core Group