Hallmark is known for greeting cards, gift wrap and movies, but its history is fairly unknown. Join WSPNs Tina Su, Hallie Luo and Bella Schreiber as they uncover the story behind Hallmarks origin.
Hallmark is known for greeting cards, gift wrap and movies, but its history is fairly unknown. Join WSPN’s Tina Su, Hallie Luo and Bella Schreiber as they uncover the story behind Hallmark’s origin.
Credit: Hallie Luo

Hallmark Visitors Center: Greeting customers since 1985

The Hallmark Visitors Center, located in Kansas City, Mo., was opened to the public in 1985, in honor of the 75th anniversary of Hallmark’s founding. Hallmark has made several contributions to Kansas City and its community by building Crowne Center, Kaleidoscope and various volunteering endeavors throughout the city. Join WSPN’s Tina Su, Hallie Luo and Bella Schreiber as they explore the establishment and its history.
As visitors enter the Hallmark Visitors Center, ambassador Jill Frasier welcomes them in the entrance. 
[Working here] is one of those jobs that doesnt feel like a job, Frazier said. You just enjoy coming and helping each other out.
Hallmark’s emphasis on employee welfare

From greeting cards to romantic Christmas movies to gift wrap, Hallmark has been supporting people through emotional times for decades. A company that started with a teenage boy and a shoebox, founder Joyce Clyde Hall entered Kansas City with a dream of being a businessman and slowly built up the company we now call Hallmark. Hallmark prides themselves on bringing joy and helping build connections, especially within their own employees.

Exhibit director Ron Worley started his Hallmark journey at Kaleidoscope, a free art-making space for kids, 27 years ago. Worley enjoyed his time at Kaleidoscope and especially appreciated the rewarding feeling of helping kids to discover their talents.

“As I have changed in my life, it always seems like Kaleidoscope has changed with me and has challenged me,” Worley said. “If I were just doing the same thing year after year, I probably would’ve left years ago, but there’s always been something that has caught my attention and kept me learning.”

Hallmark is intent on spreading a good message through their products and services. According to Worley, Kaleidoscope is an example of such.

“It creates a no-fail art experience, which is really important to build childrens’ confidence,” Worley said. “I loved it when kids came in and said they were not artists. I always thought, ‘just wait.’ All it took was just a little bit of time in the studio. When [kids] are told there’s no wrong way to do artwork, it builds confidence. So many times, the kids would leave brimming with pride and holding their artwork, [believing] that they were artists. That was really rewarding.”

Although the prospect of working a well-paying job in a large corporation draws some employees in, it’s the connections they make every day that convince them to stay. For part-time employee Teri Batcheller, being at Hallmark is a gift in itself, allowing her to make connections with fellow employees and people outside of the company.

“Once Hallmark gets in your blood, it is hard to leave,” Batcheller said. “I never thought I’d work for a big corporation, but the opportunity arose and it was a great company. The relationships I built with other employees, knowing the product we made was going to people that were sharing their moments with their family and friends, was just rewarding.”

While some corporations choose to focus on profit first, Hallmark’s values guide them in their production. Hall placed an emphasis on volunteering and helping local communities.

“Our beliefs and values [are about] who we are and what we stand for,” Worley said. “The quality in all things we do is about enriching people’s lives. The main way we do that is through our products, but [also by] being good community partners. Employees volunteer all over the city, and Hallmark quietly donates to multiple good causes across the city.”

The company’s stance of giving back was cultivated by Hall and developed by his family. With the knowledge of three Hall generations incorporated into the company, the family is incorporated within Hallmark.

“The Hall family continues to nourish and shepherd Hallmark,” Worley said. “When Hall family members come here, they’re not put into managerial roles. Don and Dave, [the grandchildren of the founder,] started in the custodial department. They go into work in all sorts of areas– production, marketing, all areas so they can learn the company.”

Some of the employees mentioned feeling grateful for their experiences at Hallmark and a deep love for what they do. Visitors Center ambassador Jill Frasier has worked at Hallmark for over 20 years, but has not spent her time in one place. She started in headquarters designing products, before transitioning to the visitors center more recently.

“It’s a great company,” Frasier said. “Who doesn’t want to work for a company that puts good into the world? That’s been their mission since the very beginning and it still continues today.”

Frasier has appreciation for both positions that she has held at Hallmark, but believes that it’s especially nice to focus on making someone leave the building happier than when they arrived.

“Relationships really matter and we try to support and celebrate each other in the good times and the bad,” Frasier said. “What we’re trying to do is to help people connect and have that human feeling towards each other, to make people feel like they matter and that people care about them. It doesn’t matter how you do that, it’s just what we’re trying to accomplish. I think Hallmark does a lot to help with those connections and memories.”

At the end of the day, Hallmark is more than just a big corporation to some employees. Their family-styled company favors connections and their employees’ quality of life.

“I’ve had a great career here,” Worley said. “I really admire the leadership, the Hall family and I am so appreciative and enjoy sharing the Hallmark story with people. [Hallmark] makes sure the work-life balance is appropriate, realizes life is life and you need to adjust to [ensure] employees are happy with their job. A lot of people stay here for decades because it’s a really wonderful place. The people are great, the environment is great and there’s a creative culture that nourishes the soul.”

As visitors enter the Hallmark Visitors Center, ambassador Jill Frasier welcomes them in the entrance. “[Working here] is one of those jobs that doesn’t feel like a job,” Frazier said. “You just enjoy coming and helping each other out.” (Credit: Bella Schreiber)
Infographic: History of Hallmark

 

A wall of Hallmark cards lines the wall of the gift shop at the end of the visit. Hallmark sells approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards every year.
A walk through the halls: Hallmark Visitors Center

Join WSPN’s Hallie Luo, Tina Su and Bella Schreiber as they take readers through a walk-through tour of the Hallmark Visitors Center in Kansas City, Mo.

A wall of Hallmark cards lines the wall of the gift shop at the end of the visit. Hallmark sells approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards every year. (Credit: Bella Schreiber)
Ron Worley: Hallmark’s helper

Hallmark Visitors Center exhibit director Ron Worley has been working with Hallmark for 27 years. In honor of his final day before retirement, Worley recounts his experiences as a Hallmark employee.

 

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