The partners did bring in one extra employee to help (bringing the total to three). Norman says the square footage of the store -- and especially behind the counter -- doesn't really allow for too many more workers.

"It was so busy it was impossible to straighten out the cards. You couldn't. We wanted to move out of the way for customers. We can't afford a bigger store so we try to squeeze merchandise in every corner," she says. "It was our busiest day, since our ownership, in one-day sales. It blew Valentine's Day away."

Card$mart gave the Mother's Day customers even a few days after the holiday to make purchase (most card stores immediately move on to the next holiday).

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.

The busy Mother's Day stood in stark contrast to Memorial Day.

Card$mart of Plainview intended to stay open on Memorial Day, however sales were so slow -- only Lotto players came in -- that Rothberg decided to close the store early. The partners are trying to decide whether it's cost effective to stay open on holidays.

"Being new and being money hungry we try not to close at all, but it's not cost effective," Norman says.

Yet Norman is still unsure whether to close the store on July 4. "It always comes back to those lotto players and we'd hate for them to have to go somewhere else," she says. "We'll see. Maybe we'll open up in the morning."

Card$mart is now stocked with cards and gifts in preparation for graduations and Father's Day, as well as stocking up on going away/missing you/welcome home cards because the store is located in an area where parents send their children to sleep away camp.

"This is what the demand is," Norman says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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