MOSES LAKE - Andrew's Hallmark, a long-time fixture in Moses Lake's retail industry, is closing its doors after decades of business in the community.
Manager Amy Scott said that the store's owners, Dick and Nancy Anders, are sorry to have to close the town's only Hallmark store. The couple, who live in Bellevue, have spent about 50 years operating Hallmark stores around the state of Washington, she said.
Scott said that she has worked for the Anders for nearly two decades, and started her time at Hallmark back when there were two Moses Lake locations. The first store was located near Hasting's on Pioneer Way.
The first location was closed about 16 years ago, said Scott. She moved to the store's current location, where she has served as manager for about 12 years.
Scott said the Anders closed the other Hallmark location because it was proving to be too expensive to run two stores.
"It got to the point where it didn't make sense economically to keep two stores open in a town this small," she said.
Scott said that much like their decision to close their first Hallmark store, the Anders cited economic reasons for closing their Third Avenue location.
"So that's part of it, the economy is not so great and the owners are just ready to retire," said Scott.
Scott said that over the years, she has noticed a change in customers' shopping habits.
"People don't have as much disposable income as they used to," she said.
Scott said that keepsake ornaments were once one of the store's best-selling items. However, the sale of ornaments has decreased over the years.
"About ten years or so ago, customers would collect huge amounts of ornaments," she said. "But it got to the point where they stopped coming in to buy them, and if they did, they bought less."
Scott said that the recent economic downturn has forced a lot of people to spend less on the specialty items that Hallmark specializes in, such as cards and keepsake gift items.
Scott said that since she has announced the store's closing, community members have expressed their disappointment in losing a downtown Moses Lake business.
"Every comment has been that they are so sad to lose something that has been here for so long and that has been a staple in the community," she said. "They feel bad for us having to lose our jobs and that there will be no more Hallmark in this town."
In an effort to clear out the store's inventory, Scott said that items throughout the store are being deeply discounted. All items are marked down by at least 30 percent, she said, while others are marked with even bigger discounts.
Fixtures, shelving and office furniture are also for sale, said Scott.
Scott said that while it's definitely hard to see the store's shelves and displays bare, it's even harder for her to say goodbye to the customers she has gotten to know over the years.
"Our customers have become part of my extended family," she said. "There's people I helped do their wedding invitations, saw them have babies and see their babies grow up and help with their graduation parties."
Scott said that not getting to see the people she has made connections with each week at the store will be the most difficult part of closing the store.
But Scott said that like the Anders, she is thankful for the support the Moses Lake community has given the store over the years.
"I think the owners would like to thank the people of Moses Lake and the downtown area," said Scott. "We apologize for not sticking around longer, but it's just a sign of the times."
Scott said she isn't sure what she will end up doing next, but it will be hard to find another position she loves as much as her current one.
"The hardest part is probably going to be finding a place like this, because it's such a fun place to work," she said. "I'm going to miss knowing that I have a place like this to come to everyday."
Andrew's Hallmark is located on the corner of West Third Avenue and Division Street in downtown Moses Lake.
They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Scott said the store will keep its regular hours for the time being, or until most of the inventory is gone. She urgers people to take advantage of the store's discounts sooner, rather than later.
"The lease is up in March, but as to whether or not we'll be open that long is really up in the air," she said. "The way things are selling, it might be sooner than that."