Boxes still line the store. Some glass stands are already filled with merchandise. Others sit empty. But in the next week, the boxes will be gone and the shelves will be stocked in the only Hallmark Gold Crown store in coastal Delaware south of Rehoboth Beach.
After running Petal Pushers in Ocean View for two years, Bob and Patti Ingram decided to open Hallmark’s signature store next to the new Super Giant in Millville.
“A lot of it is already set up,” said Patti Ingram, who moved to the area with her husband about five years ago. “It’s just bringing in all the other products.”
On Wednesday, the Ingrams — with the help of some co-workers and friends — emptied boxes, set gifts on glass shelves and prepared for the store’s opening, which has been “three years in the making,” they said.
Patti Ingram — a lifetime Hallmark shopper — and her husband have been trying to open a Hallmark Gold Crown franchise since their first year running the garden center in Ocean View.
“I never understood why people went to Hallmark,” said Bob Ingram, who observed the store’s obsessive following while shopping in the store with his wife. “Finally, one day, it hit me: Hallmark has the ability to help people communicate their feelings. That’s what it’s all about.”
Bob Ingram said that the new Hallmark store will do for the area one thing the Super Giant did after its opening earlier this year. To buy quality gifts, cards, stationary and more in one spot, local residents and visitors formally traveled at as far as Rehoboth or Ocean City — many times battling arduous summer traffic.
Not anymore, he said. Next to the Giant, Quiznos, art gallery and framing store, steakhouse, cleaners and new Chinese restaurant — a Hair Cuttery franchise is also set to open soon — the Ingrams and the store seem to be helping to create a new Millville.
“We love the store,” Bob Ingram said. “We feel that it brings a new dimension to cards and gifts in the area.”
At the new store, patrons can buy anything from wedding invitations to gift books, from Yankee Candles to scrapbooks. And because it’s a Gold Crown store, the Millville spot will sell musical cards and ornaments that are sold exclusively at the Gold Crown Hallmark shops.
The store’s merchandise also changes with the seasons. Halloween decorations will be on display when the Ingrams open their doors this week and Christmas decorations aren’t far behind. And the couple feels that they are in a great spot to reach residents of the area.
“I like the location,” said Bob Ingram, adding that Hallmark was reluctant to open a franchise in the area until the Super Giant opened.
Now all the Philadelphia-area natives and former residents of St. Louis and Cleveland have to do is set up shop. Through this weekend, they expect to be sifting through boxes, preparing for next week’s grand opening.
“We retired and moved to the area,” said Patti Ingram, who formerly worked in sales. Bob Ingram worked in manufacturing. But retirement is turning out to be a bit more than lying on the beach. “This is our relaxation,” she said.