HAZLE TOWNSHIP -- Long lines of customers were at several Hallmark gift shops in our region Thursday.
Hallmark Heritage Shops in Hazleton, Scranton, Shamokin, Bloomsburg, Lehighton, and Williamsport are expected to close soon as the greeting card business changes.
The owner of the shops blames declining business, but stores expected to close were very busy Thursday.
At Hallmark Heritage Shops in the Keyser Oak Shopping Center in Scranton and the Laurel Mall near Hazleton, the lines were out the door.
All the business is a little too late.
Customers were there to shop as the store prepares to close its doors.
"We've shopped Hallmark for years and years, and we'll miss it," said Pat Scarpati of Hazleton.
Scarpati didn't mind waiting in line for up to a half hour to for a chance stock up on traditional Hallmark goods.
"I was surprised [at the lines]," said Theresa Holly of West Hazleton. "I am surprised they are closing because they have such nice things."
The independent owner of nearly a dozen Hallmark Heritage Shops sent a letter to loyal shoppers inviting them to the liquidation sale. It's a thank you for shopping at his stores over the past 45 years.
"I'm really going to miss this, so I stocked up. I have a basket full and my husband is in there watching it. I hope I get back there to ring it up before he sees what's in there," said Renee Greenwood. "[I have] about 100 cards in my basket!"
"We like the Hallmark brand. We come here to shop. It's at the Laurel Mall, we come here to shop. So now we'll be down to one at the other mall," said Donna Yannuzzi of Hazleton.
The shop at the Church Hill Mall near Hazleton is the next closest Hallmark store. It's run by a different owner who says business is good. They want people to know they plan to stay around, and even honor current coupons or reward certificates from the closing stores
"We have the phone ringing off the wall," said Karen Forte, Angelique Boutique. "Hopefully, I need to get in touch with all the new customers. I need to find out what they need."
The following locations are closing: