GREENFIELD, Ind. - Cynthia Erwin worked the front desk in her husband Bob's dental office in the 1980s, and she was saving every penny.
One day she surprised her family and said she was opening a business.
"So she decided to look around, and we had a Hallmark store where the owner was retiring, and her name was Kay," said Kelley Holden. "So my mother bought Kay’s Hallmark."
Cynthia's Hallmark opened in Greenfield in 1985. By the 90s, she was able to get more space in an old grocery store. And Kelley says Hallmark told her mom it would never work.
"But eventually they just kept growing and growing, and he retired very early as a dentist to come into the business."
Cynthia passed away in 2007, and Bob passed away two years ago. And two of their kids, Kelley and Cort, left their jobs to keep the family business going.
Cort walked us through the store, and it took a while because this Hallmark that would "never work" is now the largest in the country at 25,000 square feet.
And as the siblings say, tongue in cheek, it's not your mother's Hallmark store anymore.
They've kept the classics, like the holiday ornament wall, but gone are the days of greeting cards and Precious Moments.
Their inventory reflects today's shopper. They even have a clothing boutique attached to the store.
Cort thanks their employee Pete for how festive the store always looks. Pete is a retired Rolls Royce engineer who they think might secretly be Buddy the Elf's brother from the movie Elf!
"He’s just magical!" said Cort. "I’ll go home from work, and the next day I’ll come back, and it’s like, look at what Peter’s done!"
So will the family business continue with the grandchildren? They're not sure yet. That could be a surprise just like Cynthia's penny saving!
"Oh, I think she’d be very proud," said Kelley. "She’d be very happy. She’s looking down and smiling on us every day. Same with my dad."
Kelley and Cort admit it's not easy to keep a brick and mortar going and they encourage you to shop local this holiday season!