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Hallmark Store Owner Saw 'the End Coming' Before Closing

The card and gift store is set to close at the end of the month.

After more than 25 years, the Bay Hills Card and Gift Hallmark store in Arnold will close its doors at the end of February.

It's the end of an era for store owner Brad McCormack, who has been working at the business since the 1980s, inheriting it from his father, Fred, who had worked for Hallmark since after Vietnam.

The Arnold store officially opened in November 1987, doing much of its business selling holiday and birthday cards, with a thriving gift and candy market on the side.

But times have changed.

McCormack said he was closing the Arnold store because it was no longer financially viable. Part of that is due to an online shift in the retail market that several businesses are experiencing, but another factor is the local market, he said.

"The end was coming. I saw it coming, and chose not to renegotiate the lease," McCormack said. "I probably would have stayed if the economics had worked out, but it's a financial decision for me."

McCormack said the cards and gifts business lives on the bustling traffic a shopping center can provide—people stopping in after dropping off their dry cleaning, or while walking back to their cars from a haircut. But over the past two years, McCormack said he noticed a distinct decline in traffic at the Bay Hills Shopping Center.

"As of two years ago, I began to start sweating paying the bills in the summertime," he said.

But what was the cause of that shift? McCormack politely declined to point fingers.

In a cramped backroom of the Arnold store, McCormack sat in a chair where there would normally be boxes of Christmas goods, even though the holiday is still 10 months away. Instead of receiving advanced Christmas merchandise, he's trying to get rid of the last of the merchandise.

McCormack had this message for his loyal customers:

“By virtue of this business, our customers aren’t buying something for themselves. They’re buying something to make somebody else feel good. It’s really been great. I’ve had great years here, and I’ve enjoyed interacting with people, so I will miss my interactions with them.”

“I will miss this place, but it looked like it was going to become a liability for me to stay here,” he said.

As for what’s next for McCormack? His future is undecided, but in March, he said he’ll take the first steps on a new adventure.

McCormack said he has always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, and he has already charted out plans for a month-long trek along some of the most beautiful greenspace the country has to offer. 

And what's next for Bay Hills Shopping Center? When the Hallmark store vacates, there will be two adjacent parcels without tenants. The Wild Goose Seafood Market nextdoor has been out of business for months. McCormack said he has heard that an Italian restaurant may open in his spot, but he was not certain.

John T. Sly February 22, 2013 at 01:17 AM
Best wishes to Mr. McCormack. I hope he knows he made the neighborhood that much more pleasant.
Carolyn Renz February 22, 2013 at 08:50 AM
They will be missed, covenient neighborhood friendliness! Always saved my Hallmark/card shopping for this store.....no more.
Debbie Greene February 22, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Thank you so much Brad and staff for your friendly service and support of the community. You have been a friend to Broadneck High School football, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and many other community activities through your generosity and kindness. You are a true neighborhood store and we will miss you greatly. All the best in your future endeavors
Nancy Greer February 22, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Brad donated to our silent auction for SPAN, and I know he will be missed by many. Thank you, Brad, and best wishes.
Chris Holmes February 22, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Sad to see this local icon of a card and gift shop close. Another blow to Bay Hills shopping. Brad and the store will be missed.
Natalie BP February 23, 2013 at 04:10 AM
My memories of our family walking over to your store Brad to pick out cards and gifts ~ will always be with me and my daughter. My husband truly enjoyed bringing me chocolates that he picked out and you wrapped in a box tied with ribbon~ it was special, your chocolate case! Thank you for providing us with friendly welcomes and years of memories. I just gathered Steves Valentines cards to us he carefully chose for us & signed will keep up every year! Cards are rare and your shop was lovely & heartfelt! I speak for my husband <3 Steve; Natalie & Tiffany.
Natalie BP February 23, 2013 at 04:17 AM
You know I am really tired & sad about seeing many wonderful ~ long time family businesses close and great staff unreplaceable! Enjoy your new adventures and live it up Brad! You earned it ~ open a Facebook page and we'll follow you on your hike! God speed ahead.
KP February 28, 2013 at 07:20 PM
I am really going to miss the chocolate counter! They were the best! Anyone know where they come from, I hear they are local company?
Chris Bruce March 03, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Thanks, Brad, for being a part of our community for all these years. From providing access to gift cards, gifts, balloons for parties and lacrosse games, and so much more through the years, your store has been so wonderful, and will be so missed. Experience the best of new adventures!

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