Full disclosure Sandy and Clayton McIlravy are friends. Not that that is unusual. They have a lot of them. But it is with an odd mix of hope, pride, and sadness that I'm writing about the closing of their business, Hannah's Hallmark, at the end of June.

This beautiful store has been my go-to Hallmark location as long as it has existed, due in no small part to the staff. If you needed help, you got it, if you wanted to browse in peace, they afforded you all the time and space you needed. Plus, the lovingly, curated content in the store was fantastic.

After talking to Sandy, it is clear to me that the decision to close the store was multi-faceted. Most people may be thinking the store's closure is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It isn't.

It wouldn't be the first time that an event with devastating consequences for the majority of society had the opposite effect for a select few. Yes, the illness outbreak we are living through had a part to play, but it only hastened a decision already in the offing.

As Sandy put it, "It was kind of the perfect storm." Their lease was up for renewal, they are soon to be empty-nesters, and the life of a retail business owner had become an increasingly unpleasant grind from which they wanted an escape.

For those of us who have never worked in retail, understanding the sacrifices that have to be made to succeed, are difficult to fathom. In conversations with Sandy, over the years, there was no extended enjoyment of holidays, ever.

There was no lingering over Thanksgiving dinner or sleeping late the day after Christmas, etc., because you were always preparing for the next business day. These conditions loomed large when faced with signing another longterm lease in the Western Mall.

They "will definitely miss their customers", according to Sandy, and it was difficult to let her employees go, but they saw an opportunity for change and are seizing it.

Now, as they stand at the edge of their future, Sandy and Clayton McIlravy are joyfully looking forward to a number of things. First and foremost--some downtime. Additionally, they are planning to take a motorcycle trip that has been on hold forever, and to get to know each other as a couple again.

After that, Sandy imagines an employment situation where someone else makes the big decisions, a fulfilling personal life that includes watching their two wonderful daughters' lives unfold, and continuing to contribute to their community, as they always have.

Hannah's Hallmark will close on June 30 and until then they are open Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM.

For more information see Hannah's Hallmark Shop on Facebook.

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