by Mitch Allen
If you’re one of those highly organized people who complete their holiday shopping long before Christmas Eve, you’re likely wondering who in the world would wait until the last minute to shop during those final anxiety-filled hours, standing in long lines with other panicked procrastinators.
Uh, that would be me.
I typically shop at the last minute by choice—because I cannot keep a secret. My wife and our well-trained daughters have a way of getting things out of me. When I refuse to cave in to their tender torture, this team of stealthy Ninja warriors can slip under the tree, open a package and re-wrap it perfectly, then report their findings through a top secret underground network of professional peekers.
But not this year.
Karen Myers, the owner of the 12 local Karen’s Hallmark Gold Crown stores, has introduced me to Hallmark’s new “Peek Buster” bags. These clever gift bags feature a special motion detector that, when triggered, plays a prerecorded sound alerting anyone within listening range that someone is trying to peek at a gift. The voice of Santa Claus yelling, “Peek in progress!” just may save my Christmas.
Karen’s Hallmark also features other hot Hallmark gifts, including Say it with Sound Cards (recorded by the original artists), Recordable Cards featuring messages you record yourself, and over 200 popular Keepsake
Ornaments that have become a holiday tradition for two generations.
But because Karen owns each of her local stores (they are not corporate stores or franchises) she also carries a wide selection of other gifts. “Our licensing agreement with Hallmark requires that about half of our inventory must be Hallmark products,” Karen explains. “But we’re free to do whatever we want with the remaining half.”
That’s why Karen also stocks a huge selection of other popular gift lines, like Precious Moments, Vera Bradley, Yankee Candles, Demdaco figurines, Webkinz, Daffins Candy, Santa Barbara Wine and Martini Glasses, and local products like London Chocolates’ Buckeyes.
Karen’s retail skills are legendary within the Hallmark organization. She and her husband, Carl, opened their first store in the Akron area in 1989 and now own 12 stores throughout Northeast Ohio. She served on Hallmark’s Gold Crown Advisory Board, which initiated the strict Gold Crown standards. She has also served on Hallmark’s Retail Excellence Committee and various gift panels, which guide the decisions of Hallmark’s buyers.
A former stay-at-home mom, Karen knows what it’s like to work hard. “Carl and I worked day and night when we opened our first store,” Karen recalls. “But if you’re doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Karen still does most of the buying for her stores, but her husband and their sons—Carl and Curt—are now handling the operations side of the business.
In addition to her family’s high standards for customer service, Karen’s stores offer the broadest selection of Hallmark gifts you can find, including items exclusive to Gold Crown stores. And when you visit, be sure to sign up for the Hallmark Rewards Card. For every dollar you spend, you earn credit toward additional Hallmark purchases.
In a remarkable move to introduce her stores to new shoppers, Karen has agreed to offer Mimi readers 40% off the purchase of any single item, excluding Vera Bradley. See the special certificate on this page for details.
And no peeking.
Karen’s Hallmark has 12 locations throughout Northeast Ohio:
118 W. Streetsboro Rd., Hudson, 330-655-0020
The Plaza at Norton
3200 Greenwich Rd., Norton, 330-825-6012
Snowview Shopping Center
1885 Snow Rd., Parma, 216-661-0952
South Main Center
3971 S. Main St., Akron, 330-645-0999
390 Waterloo Rd., Akron, 330-773-8552
West Valley Plaza
413 W. Bagley Rd., Berea, 440-260-7585
3674 Center Rd., Brunswick, 330-273-9622
Wedgewood Dr. Plaza
2420 Wedgewood Dr., Akron, 330-733-4070
612 South Ave., Tallmadge, 330-630-1925
Stage House Square
8869 Brecksville Rd., Brecksville, 440-746-2273
Westwood Town Center
21637 Center Ridge Rd., Rocky River, 440-331-8121
Ridge Park Square
4776 Ridge Rd., Brooklyn, 216-335-9133