Carlton Cards Is Closing—Now Where Will Kids Shop For Their Parents??


carlton cards closing: a carlton cards storefront is in the background with an orange overlay and precious moments figurines in the foreground
(Photos: Creative Commons, Amazon)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that kids (like most dads) aren’t super great when it comes to gifting. First of all, they have no money and, second of all, they have even less sense; so it’s no surprise that they would be absolutely trash when it comes to sprinkling their loved ones with gifts. Don’t believe me? In Grade 7 I received a Seventeen magazine and Aero chocolate bar for Christmas from my BFF at the time. I know, it’s the thought that counts (also, I freakin’ loved Aero bars), but “thought” kind of feels more like convenience when you find out that her dad *coincidentally* had to stop off at our local London Drugs on the way to my house…I’ll give you two guesses as to what they sell at London Drugs.

Anyway, kids’ gift giving only gets worse when it comes to having to find something for their parents. Because a) parents legit already own everything and b) kids have no idea what they actually like—they’re your parents and until you reach the age of at least 15 they aren’t actual people. (That sounds correct, right?) Enter: Carlton Cards. This tiny slice of greeting card heaven was the answer to every pipsqueak’s prayers and limited bank accounts, offering the perfect balance of affordable trinkets that are just sentimental/cheesy enough to show that you put effort in to selecting them and are aware that the person you’re giving them to is your mom. Which is why the January 22 news of its shuttering—with 254 Carlton Cards and Papyrus stores closing across North America—is so saddening. And while we can probably chalk up the closing of the #1 greeting card company in Canada to the continuing trend of bricks-and-mortar falling prey to online shopping, the news of Carlton Cards’s demise comes as a GD heartbreak—because, guys, where will the kids shop for their parents now?!

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While it may seem hyperbolic, unlike the demise of video stores the shuttering of Carlton Cards is a true loss (don’t @ me). Caught somewhere between a dollar store and the 1980s basement of your trinket-obsessed great aunt, Carlton Cards was a one-stop shop for all of your parental gifting needs—especially of the obscure variety. Whomst among us *hasn’t* wandered the front aisles, stopping at the glass shelves filled with tiny ceramic figurines and frantically trying to choose the right wide-eyed Precious Moments that’ll show your mom you love her and also acknowledge that it’s her birthday—all while she’s two stores down shopping for pullover sweaters at Northern Reflections? Unlike Blockbuster, where your fave movie could be out of stock for weekends on end, there was a a trinket available for every occasion: Need a silver frame etched with “Sisters” and tiny pink crystals hanging off the sides? They’ve got you! Looking for a fine bisque porcelain figurine of a little boy holding a gigantic donut emblazoned with “Mom, donut forget I love you!”? Not sure why you would be, but they have it! Need a *very* specific faceless mini wood statue depicting a home birth for the IRL couple in your life similarly contemplating a home birth? Done!

Does it matter that said Precious Moments figurines, in hindsight, are straight up nightmarish looking and have extremely religious undertones? (Let’s hope no one gave their parents the “A Baby Makes Love Stronger” figurine.) No! Does it matter that my mom has about 100 different iterations of the “two daughters hugging their mom” Willow Tree figurine (or, sometimes, when my sister and I were feeling spiteful of each other, only one daughter hugging their mom) and not enough space to hold them all? No! It’s the thought that counts, people!

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Plus, you could also pick up a sentimental card while perusing the latest Neopets drop and costume jewellery in the back of the store. A little something for you too, just as a treat.

Do we think that our parents were seriously *thrilled* to receive these statuettes or costume bangles for EVERY. SINGLE. OCCASION? No, probably not; but they knew what went into us choosing it for them. Mainly, minutes of us painstakingly perusing over-priced ceramics to discern which of the generic, big-eyed porcelain figures would best suit our moms and our relationships with them…unfortunately there were never any “screaming because I’m a brat but will one day call you twice a day” figurines.

So, what are the tweens of 2020 expected to do now…order off of Amazon?! That’s so impersonal.

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