Business

Wednesday, Jan 06 2010 05:54 PM

Amy's Hallmark store slated to close next month

BY HILLARY HAENES, Californian staff writer hhaenes@bakersfield.com

Corporate office phone lines have been inundated with customers calling to voice their feelings about the impending closure of Amy's Hallmark in northeast Bakersfield.

The Oswell Street store is slated to close close Feb. 24, just before its lease is up Feb. 28.

"I don't want to see another store close on the east side," said customer Diane Smith, who is frustrated by having to drive to Rosedale for shopping. "If enough people are made aware of it, they can call corporate or write a little letter to try and save the store."

She said that while shopping Tuesday, she and other customers were given comment cards and strips of paper with the 1-800 number of Hallmark.

When a reporter called the 800 number to reach a company spokesperson regarding the closure of store No. 578, the representative immediately knew that was the Oswell Street store and asked if this was about filing a complaint.

Store manager Susan Williams has handed out the corporate contact information to customers in an effort to keep the store open, perhaps just in a different location.

"I think if enough customers call the 1-800 number and voice their complaints, they could maybe save the store," Williams said.

She added, "We don't know if it will work. It has worked for other stores -- all we can do is give this a try." Amy's Hallmark has been open more than 20 years.

Last year when the Pier 1 across the street announced it was closing, customers called corporate, voiced complaints, and ultimately the store is still open, both Smith and Williams said.

Williams said she was told Dec. 28 that her Hallmark location would close. As her employees gradually came in to work, she personally told each one so they would not find out from anyone but her.

"The lease is up on the building. Negotiations fell through -- in terms of the lease, an agreement could not be reached," Williams said.

A sign for CB Richard Ellis, which handles leasing for the building Hallmark occupies, is up in front of the shopping center.

"The space is available for lease," said Amanda Wolff, a sales associate for CB Richard Ellis. She couldn't confirm which businesses might be negotiating to move into the location.

If Amy's Hallmark, which is a corporate store, closes, Bobbi's Hallmark will be the only Hallmark in town. Bobbi's Hallmark is in the Town & Country Village shopping center on Stockdale Highway and is independently owned by Carol and Tom Rodgers. The nearest corporate Hallmark store is in Los Angeles.

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