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The end of an era

Hallmark shop closing after 38 years

Thomas' Hallmark Shop in downtown Johnstown — seen this past week — is closing on Columbus Day after 38 years in business. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — COVID-19 is not only claiming lives, it has claimed a beloved card and gift business in the heart of the city.

Thomas’ Hallmark Shop – a local business at 112 W. Main St. for nearly four decades – is closing its doors on Oct. 12. That is the exact date the store opened in the 1980s.

Mayor Vern Jackson made public the business closing at the Common Council meeting Monday night at City Hall.

Owners Greg and Sheila Thomas of Caroga Lake this week confirmed the closing of their shop, which has served the Johnstown area with unique gifts, ornaments and cards for 38 years. The store also announced the move on a whiteboard outside. He said they will try to sell the downtown building at this point.

“The COVID virus has killed us,” Greg Thomas said Friday. “We’ve lost so much money. We are retirement age. But this pushed the envelope.”

Greg Thomas adjusts the limited amount 2020 Hallmark Christmas ornaments he had available at Thomas' Hallmark Store in downtown Johnstown on July 23. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

The Downtown Johnstown Business & Professional Association noted the closing on its Facebook page. “We are pretty sad to be sharing this news but Thomas’ Hallmark will be closing its doors. They are offering 50 percent off of their entire in stock inventory … We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Greg and Sheila.”

Thomas’ Hallmark continues to be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, but not on the weekends.

The mayor also offered the Thomas family “best wishes” for years to come.

“Its been a mainstay downtown,” Jackson said of the downtown business. “Hopefully, someone will pick up on it.”

Greg Thomas said that because Thomas’ Hallmark is so holiday-oriented, sales are just not there anymore. He said the business was doing well through Valentine’s Day and then COVID-19 hit, and the financial impact on the small business became overwhelming.

Thomas’ Hallmark Shop has always had a broad selection of year-round and seasonal gifts, gift wrap, Keepsake Ornaments and greeting cards.

The gift and card shop has also been the area’s store for all special occasions.

Inventory has been available, but not limited to Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and more.

In addition customers have for years perused Thomas’ aisles for special Hallmark items related to: anniversaries, birthdays, baby showers and new babies, Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, get well, graduations, sympathy, thank yous, weddings and bridal showers.

Customers have been able to order online in recent years, and other items available have included home decor, picture frames, photo albums, accessories, stationery, Christmas ornaments, candles, candy, books, gift wrap, and stuffed animals.

Thomas said Thomas’ Hallmark opened its doors on Columbus Day — Oct. 12, 1982. He said business after 38 years was still going strong and “fine” until the pandemic hit.

“We lost a ton of money,” he said.

Thomas said that after the pandemic hit, he and his wife were “fearful” of buying more inventory, especially for the holidays that are coming up – such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. So they didn’t.

Now customers could be seen flooding into the shop this week, arms full of gift merchandise, trying to take advantage of the last bits of Thomas’ inventory.

Thomas praised his customer base at Thomas’ Hallmark for all these years, noting they have been very devoted. He said they have mostly come from the Glove Cities area.

“We had wonderful people and great customers and made many great friends,” Thomas said.

He was a former teacher at Gloversville Middle School, and his wife taught 37 years in Mayfield. His father helped him run the business in the beginning.

“It’s sad for us to close,” Thomas said, noting many loyal Hallmark customers are coming in the shop now very upset.

Thomas indicated, “People have come in crying. It’s been like a community. The people are wonderful.”

He said he and his wife have no immediate plans and will continue residing in Fulton County upon closing the shop. Over the years, he said he has many great memories, even bringing cards out to people on the street who couldn’t get out of their cars so they could look at them. He let people keep cards overnight before they bought them.

“We plan to stay here for the time being and enjoy life,” he said.

Thomas said he and his wife are excited for their only child, son Alexander Thomas, who is expecting his first child and the elder Thomas’ first grandchild this fall.

“That makes us very happy,” Thomas said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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