Papyrus greeting card stores shredded amid retail struggles

The greeting card company will close more than 260 stores

Stationery chain Papyrus is reportedly closing stores across the country weeks before Valentine’s Day amid retailer struggles.

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Schurman Retail Group, the parent company of the American Greetings card brand which acquired Papyrus in 2009, will shutter all of its retail stores in 2020, Patrice Molnar, a spokesperson for American Greetings, confirmed. It hired liquidation firm, Gordon Brothers, to help with going-out-of-business sales, according to the letter obtained by Retail Dive. The company has more than 260 locations, according to its website.

Papyrus is reportedly closing stores across the country. (John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Some locations in New York City already had "everything must go" signs up in stores when FOX Business checked on Tuesday. A location on East 86th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is offering 20 percent off on all merchandise to shoppers.

Papyrus said the store closures are due to the “current challenges of the retail industry,” it said in a statement to Retail Dive. It’s unclear if the store, which sells greeting cards, writing accessories and other paper goods will continue selling items on its e-commerce websites. American Greetings will continue to supply Papyrus-branded products in across the U.S. and Canada in stores like Target, Kroger, Whole Foods and Rite Aid, Molnar said.

"While Schurman Retail Group (SRG) has decided to close its specialty retail stores in 2020, American Greetings supplies and sells Papyrus greeting cards and other Papyrus branded products in over 300 retailers across the United States and Canada and will continue to do so without any interruption," Molnar said.

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Greeting card revenue has shown steady growth over the past few years with the industry raking in around $933 million last Valentine's Day, up from $894 million in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation. And 6.5 billion cards are purchased each year, according to an industry report from 2012.  So there's still demand for tangible cards even though consumers seem to be buying them primarily online with increased competition from companies like Shutterfly and Vistaprint that let people customize stationery and greeting cards and print them out or send them electronically.

More than 9,000 retail store closures were announced in 2019, which is about 55 percent more than the number of stores that shutdown in 2018, according to global marketing research firm Coresight Research. American Greetings was a publicly-traded company and went private in 2013 amid sales struggles.

Some local card store retailers, however, have managed to still stay in business despite struggling with increased competition from e-commerce. Lisa Dragonetti, the owner of Lisa's On Second, a greeting card store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has been in business for 30 years.

"The card business has definitely changed over the years with different competitors especially with Amazon, which not only effects the card business but all local businesses. We try to keep prices reasonable," Dragonetti said, adding that she's modernized the business over the years by offering convenient perks like free gift wrapping and delivery.

Papyrus' announcement that it is closing its stores follows other recent retail closings.

Pier 1 Imports recently announced it would close up to 450 of its stores, and Bed Bath & Beyond sold nearly half of its real estate, including stores and a distribution center to a private equity firm. Last year, paper goods and craft supplier A.C. Moore’s parent company Nicole Crafts announced it would shutter all of its 145 stores. Payless Shoe Source and Dressbarn also closed locations last year.

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The average cost of a greeting card is between $2 to $4, and can cost upwards of $6 in some markets for brands like a Papyrus or Hallmark card. Some greeting card retailers have modernized over the years. Privately-held Hallmark Cards offers electronic cards that can be posted directly to Facebook charging customers $5 for a monthly subscription. The company says it has 30,000 employees worldwide and it generates $4 billion in revenue, according to its website. The company estimates that 1.6 billion cards are exchanged during the holidays alone.

The average cost of a greeting card is between $2 to $4 and can cost upwards of $6 at stores like Papyrus and Hallmark. 

Papyrus, founded in 1950 by the Schurman family, opened its first location in 1973 in Berkeley, Calif. But the business of tangible greeting cards has become increasingly competitive with e-cards and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat making it easier than ever to send a sentiment on demand. Etiquette experts say, however, that expressing a "happy birthday," "get well" or "thank you" on paper will always be the most personal.

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"I'm a big fan of hand-written notes," New York City-based etiquette expert and founder of Etiquette School of New York Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick told FOX Business. "It takes two seconds to send a text to someone and, granted, it's better than nothing, but someone who takes the time to send a hand-written note shows their appreciation and that they care more."

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