- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Hallmark Cards Inc. twice experimented with selling Veterans Day cards, and twice decided the market wasn't there. But that was before the September 11 attacks.
After employee Keri Olson successfully pushed for the reintroduction of the card this year, the company expected about 5,000 stores would want them, according to Hallmark spokeswoman Rachel Bolton.
Instead, orders came in from more than 18,000 stores, and some ordered a second batch. Veterans Day is Monday.
Sales have been better than expected, although precise information isn't available, the company said.
Hallmark retailers reported a 20 percent to 50 percent spike in sales Nov. 1 that has continued to hold steady, Miss Bolton said.
"We weren't expecting that big of a spike, but we think it will increase over the weekend," she said.
Miss Bolton said of Miss Olson: "Sales have proved she was right."
Miss Olson had wanted to get a card for her father, who fought in the Vietnam War, last Veterans Day.
"I think with the events of September 11, I began to understand all that he had sacrificed. I really wanted to tell him," she said.
Employed by Hallmark at its Kansas City headquarters the last two years, she knew they didn't make a specific card for that day. So last year she chose one that simply expressed appreciation and on Nov. 11 gave it to her father, who was wounded in combat and decorated with a Purple Heart.
"When he got this card, he started crying and saying that no one had ever thanked him before," she said.
Miss Olson, 33, set out to convince her company that making Veterans Day cards was a good idea. The company had found out otherwise in tests of the cards in 1985 and 1999, when sales proved sparse.
Hallmark agreed to give it another try, and a team of writers and artists volunteered to help with designs, along with their normal duties.
The difference between this year and the earlier experiments is obvious, Miss Bolton said.
"Things had changed. People were feeling different following 9/11," she said.
Most of the 20 Veterans Day cards in Hallmark's line are aimed at specific groups. There's one for each branch of the military, for veterans of World War II and the Korean War, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, for women, for fathers and for sons.
Hallmark's biggest competitor, American Greetings, has found that Veterans Day was "more of a niche market," said Laurie Henrichsen, spokeswoman for the Cleveland-based company.
"They sell very well for what they are. But it's not a holiday that's as big as something like Christmas and Valentine's Day," she said.
Last year, American Greetings offered some cards for Veterans Day in conjunction with other patriotic cards issued after the terrorist attacks. This year, it is offering electronic Veterans Day cards on its Web sites, www.americangreetings.com and www.bluemountain.com.
Miss Bolton said Hallmark's top-selling card so far is one for fathers that features two children with their hands over their hearts. The tag line inside reads: "Thanks for Defending 'Liberty and Justice for All.'"
Another popular card salutes World War II veterans. It reads: "Veterans of World War II led the way for countless heroes to come. Today your sacrifice and courage mean more than ever. Today your service and you are remembered with honor."
Jerry Newberry, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the organization was pleased by Hallmark's decision to sell the cards.
"We think it's a great idea. In fact, we encouraged Hallmark to do that some years ago," Mr. Newberry said. "I know most veterans and their families will be appreciative that those cards will be available."

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