Working at Hallmark for the past summer and winter break has given me a different perspective on cards. Before then, occasionally I'd get a cool card, but for the most part I wondered why they were such a big deal.
Once I worked there, though- I watched some of the people who spend lots of money on cards. I would see people who come in with a list of cards they need to get for the month, and they'll spend an hour or more poring (pouring?) over the cards for just the right ones. These shoppers are hardcore- some of them know the card layout better than I do.
One lady, around Christmas, came in and asked me to help her choose a card for a good friend of hers. Apparently this lady can't read too many cards in succession, or she'll have tremors, but she likes to pick out just the right card, so one of us who works there helps her each time she comes in. She's a sweet lady, and although at first it seemed a little strange to give my advice on which cards were better, I remember feeling really satisfied when she settled on a card and thanked me for all of my help, saying she would've had to just pick one quickly without me.
Hallmark's motto is "When you care to send the very best," but what I realized from working there is that most people don't come to Hallmark because the cards are any better than anywhere else; rather, they come to Hallmark because it's primarily a card store, and they're able to pick out one that doesn't just 'work'- instead, it fits the person and situation specifically. It's not because they care to send the best; it's just because they care.
Even if a card just has a quick, scrawled note on it, a card represents caring. Receiving a card- or, really, any mail- is a reminder that someone is thinking of you. And, while it may take more time, effort, or even a little more money for the sender, when you open the envelope and find a card that you think must have been written with you in mind... it makes you feel loved.
While it's exhausting to pull out card after card to read, and then try to decide which one you like the most, there are plenty of people who think the process is worth it to find that certain card. I can see it sometimes when I'm working the register; the customer comes up to me with this triumphant smile, their eyes shouting, "I found it! I found the perfect card!"
Hallmark may be kind of expensive, capitalizing on the fact that people want to come to a store where they have lots of card options, but I like working there, for the most part. Most of our customers are there to do something nice for someone else, and I like that- both because they're generally not mean to employees, and because I like to see things like a young boy taking his little sister to buy a card and stuffed animal for their mom, who's in the hospital- and then paying for it himself. Working at Hallmark allows me to see people at their least selfish and most caring.
And, occasionally, I stumble on one of those perfect cards myself. :)