The longtime gift boutique and greeting card store Louise's Hallmark Shop in St. John plans to close after more than 30 years.
Regularly voted one of Northwest Indiana's best gift shops in The Times Best of the Region polls, the store at 9533 Wicker Ave. sold cards, gifts, gift wraps and ornaments in the Tri-Town for decades. Generations of Region residents went there when a loved one had a birthday, anniversary or some other special occasion.
"Over 30 years ago Louise and Bob Lauer opened the doors of Louise's with a dream and a passion to be Northwest Indiana's most successful Hallmark store," owner Jill Luecker said in a letter to customers. "Over many successful years, the business grew bigger and the Lauers moved Louise's from St. John Mall to its current location. Throughout the years, Louise's passion and love for the business was always evident. After purchasing the business from the Lauers 10 years ago, our family has strived to maintain the same energy and excitement for Louise's. We felt that keeping the Louise's name on the door was important and a way to continue to honor the legacy of what the Lauers created."
But the brick-and-mortar retail landscape, upended by the rise of e-commerce, has changed drastically over the years.
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"Today's environment is very different than it was 30 years ago," Luecker said in the letter to customers. "Consumer behaviors have changed over the years. Online shopping and next-day delivery make it very convenient for all of us to shop from home and the experience of visiting brick and mortar small businesses is not what it was five, 10 or 20 years ago. Our business has been extremely impacted by this and it is with great sadness that we are announcing that after 30+ years in business, Louise's will be closing its doors."
Louise's Hallmark Shop launched a liquidation sale starting at 20% off and will continue to accept Hallmark Reward Certificates through the end of May.
"From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank all of you for your loyalty and business over the years," she wrote in a letter that ended with a quote from Semisonic's "Closing Time": "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
Other Hallmark stores have closed in recent years in Schererville and Hobart.