Day 93: Hallmark
No, I’m not talking about the Hallmark movies though I absolutely love them. I am talking about a card and gift shop situated right next to my school. Or rather which was situated right next to my school as it has long since shut down.
Hallmark started as a card shop, yes you guessed it correctly, Hallmark cards were all the rage back in the 90’s and 2000’s and we would flock to the store to pick out cards for our friends, families, teachers’, special someone’s, ahem. And then they began expanding to Archies cards and teddies, chocolates, little knick knacks like snow globes, heart backed pens, etc. It became consumerism’s delight blowing up every festival, every occasion into colourful festoons, especially for the student body. Then it started keeping music cassettes(yes, millennials that’s a thing please Google it). and then CD’s and that is when it boomed. We would pre-order our favourite albums, requesting the cashier uncle to save it for us least it gets sold out.
Hallmark set up a chips and fountain Pepsi counter right outside its premises and there was no looking back. It became THE hang out spot for students of all ages. We had a separate school for boys and girls, and in the pre mobile phone-social media era, it became the stalking point for each gender looking for a suitable match. Time was not decided to meet after school hours, each day, every day-but the place remained the same-Hallmark. Lot of scores were settled between the boys, in the lane opposite Hallmark. Notes were photocopied in the shop next to Hallmark.
From chocolates, to fountain Coke to gifts, card, stationery, music and coy glances from the opposite gender, Hallmark had it all. What more could fifteen year olds possibly need? And it continued for generations of school goers until a family dispute made it shut shop. It happened (thankfully) after I graduated but the blow was severe nonetheless. It was our hub, our heart, our soul-not just a gift shop-and till date no matter what shop opens there, it will always remain the Hallmark store for thousands of us.