Barb’s Hallmark and Christmas go hand in hand

With email and texting and all sorts of electronic communication at everyone’s disposal these days, there’s no point to giving holiday greeting cards anymore — right?

Wrong.

“There’s nothing like giving and receiving an appropriate holiday card,” said Stefan Gabrielson of Barb’s Gift and Hallmark in the Twilley Centre. “Cards touch people in a way that is both surprising and almost impossible to measure.”

Everyone knows the feeling of receiving a card that’s been given with sincerity and care.

“Cards provide a terrific service. It is perfectly appropriate to pick out a card that encompasseses a person’s feelings,” said Gabrielson. “The card says what a person feels, but says it for them. It’s one of the great American traditions — especially at holiday time.”

Cards are just a portion of what the Salisbury business offers.

Hallmark is world renowned for its Christmas collections of gifts, ornaments, candles, wrapping paper — everything that helps make the holiday even more special.

It’s also the must-go-to destination of all things related to anniversaries, graduations, births and birthdays, and weddings.

Barb’s comes especially alive this time of year, as people crowd in to fill up those Christmas stockings with locally made glass jewelry, earrings made in the USA, all-leather purses, silk scarves, winter plaid scarves, shawls/wraps, boot socks, slippers, metal crab mallets made locally, decorative nite lights, Corinthian bell wind chimes, coffee-table and historical books, all types of puzzles, garden signs and — of course — Christmas Ornaments and the new annual Snowman.  And, as always, Barb’s offers free gift wrapping.

Gabrielson, who everyone calls “Gabe,” might be considered an unlikely card and gift store owner. A new England native, he spent a 30-year career as a mechanical engineer and came to the Eastern Shore for an engineer’s position at Airpax in Cambridge.

Seeing local manufacturing jobs outsourced overseas tested his career commitment, so with the support of his wife, Roxane, a Certified Public Account with PKS & Co., he purchased Barb’s Gift and Hallmark in 2007.

“Yes, we bought the store and relaunched our business just in time for the recession,” Gabrielson said.

But cards and gifts are so deeply ingrained in the the American spirit — and Barb’s Gift and Hallmark is such a cornerstone small business in Salisbury — that business has hung on. One key has been the personal service Gabrielson and his team offer their customers each day.

“We know our regular customers, and we know what they’re looking for,” said Gabrielson. “And we also know when to step up and help people who come in with great intentions, but have no clue what kind of card they want.”

Gabe — along with able assistants Stephanie and Donna — will help you find that perfect gift for that someone special.

The Gabrielsons and Barb’s support the community by shopping local and donating to local nonprofits, especially the Salisbury Zoo and its foundation.

While greeting cards are available at the big box stores these days, and even in supermarkets and the drugstores that have popped up on every corner, the experience of shopping a Hallmark-affiliated store remains special.

Perhaps more significant than the massive card selection, Barb’s offers an array of upscale and moderately priced gifts.

“We have customers who love our selection and know what they want, but we are also a go-to store for anyone who wants to purchase that ideal gift. The combination of our Hallmark brand and the experience of knowing our customers ensures that we always have the right gifts available,” Gabrielson said.

Another reason to stop in is store mascot “Honey Bear,” an attention-loving toy Chihuahua, who is there every day bringing joy and a smile to our customers.

“People come in just to see her,” admitted Gabrielson. “The UPS man brings her treats, she is such a part of Barb’s!”

According to Hallmark research, nearly three-fourths of consumers who send holiday cards do so because they know how good it feels when they receive a holiday greeting.

“Hallmark’s goal is to help people connect with each other and express what is in their hearts,” said Amy Merchant, Hallmark marketing manager of greetings. “Often the greatest gift you can give someone at the holidays is to tell them you appreciate them or love them.”

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