“When you care enough” remains one of the most famous taglines for any company in the world. With Hallmark, caring means sending the right card, giving the perfect ornament or producing an emotion-inducing television special. Heck, Hallmark even has its own television network.
The story of Hallmark comes alive at its visitors center at Crown Center, a short walk from corporate headquarters. The visitors center provides a look at the company’s history through a unique approach. Rather than plaques or posters, the company uses actual products to tell its tale. From its founding in 1910 by Joyce C. Hall, a Nebraska teen, Hallmark maintains its position as THE card to use for special occasions, such as weddings, graduations and job promotions, as well as sad times, such as a funeral or illness.
Hallmark works with a variety of companies, but perhaps its biggest coup was its relationship with Disney. Walt Disney, a Missouri native, and Hall joined forces in 1931 to create a card series that has run for more than seven decades. Imagine the thrill someone gets when they open a card and see Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck on the front and then turn it over and see the Hallmark brand.
The company enjoyed a long-term relationship with Mattel and its Barbie doll for a few decades. Following a two-year break a few years ago, the companies reunited, including Hallmark creating Barbie ornaments to cover the two absent years.
While Hallmark cards can be shared year-round, I believe the company most enjoys the holiday season. From its heart-tugging TV movies and cards to tear-inducing commercials, no one captures the emotion around the holidays like Hallmark. The company owns several Emmy awards for its TV specials.
Company employees used to present Hall with large Christmas cards each year. But, in 1966, they started creating Hallmark-themed Christmas trees to present to him. The tradition ran for about 17 years until Hall’s death in 1982. Some of the trees are on display in the Christmas Tree section.
Each tree featured a theme, ranging from folk art to the 12 Days of Christmas. The last tree – Crazy Quilt Tree – was presented in memoriam a few months after Hall’s death.
Hallmark continues to create unique ornaments. From sports and pop culture to traditional themes, ornaments abound in its “Keepsake” display. We’ve bought “Christmas Vacation” ornaments for family members, among others.
The Hallmark Visitors Center is honoring renowned folk artist Norman Rockwell through mid-January. Photos, drawings and stories highlight the Rockwell exhibit. Rockwell was hired to create a mural for Kansas City following a major flood in the Bottoms area in the early 1950s. “Kansas City Spirit” hangs on display at Hallmark. Rockwell visited the city several times while creating the mural. The exhibit features some of his renderings.
Rockwell may have been the best artist to tell America’s stories through his use of creating real life through his drawings. The visitors center includes some of his holiday themes.
We’ve visited the Hallmark center several times, and it offers something new to check out each time. From watching a team member create a greeting card to watching some of the company’s international commercials, a trip to the Hallmark Visitors Center should be on your must-see list when in Kansas City. Did I mention admission it’s free?
For more information on Hallmark, please visit www.corporate.hallmark.com