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Behind the Scenes at a Small Biz: June Profits From Thin Air

The run on helium added to another solid month for Card$mart, which celebrated its 1-year anniversary under the new ownership. Norman said sales for the month once again exceeded expectations. But she acknowledges that the solid sales the store has seen in the spring and first third of the summer makes her nervous for the slower months of July and August. (Norman still wouldn't share whether the company had turned a profit or loss in its first year, however she had said earlier in the spring that the partners no longer needed to invest their own money into the store's ongoing needs.)

Card$mart licenses its name from Designer Greetings, which is also the vendor of the "50% off" line of cards the store sells. Yet the partners are not franchisees in the sense that they do not pay franchise fees or royalties to Designer Greetings. Norman and Rothberg are required to carry the Designer Greetings 50%-off card line, but can also sell other items and cards of their choice. Designer Greetings has declined to disclose how many independent retailers license the Card$mart name.

Norman plans to turn to social media for help during the summer sales doldroms, admitting that the store's Facebook page is lacking. Between social media and email campaigns, as well as a possible loyalty card, she hopes to entice customers to continue shopping.

The store has already tried traditional coupon advertising which didn't pan out.

"I think that people cut out coupons to go the pizza place [or] to go to the clothing store. I just don't think they would take a coupon to go to the card store," Norman says.

One thing Card$mart doesn't have to worry about: the impending health care reforms.

All of Card$mart's workers are part-time employees and both Norman and Rothberg are on their husband's insurance plans. There are no plans to offer health insurance to employees.

"It's not something we're even remotely considering at this time," she says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski

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