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May 25, 2013

 

Jodi’s Hallmark store closing

Gift shop owners calling it quits to spend more time with family

ClosingJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Kim Corbett of Cortland looks for a wedding present at Jodi’s Hallmark in Cortland Wednesday. The store will be closing next month.

By SARAH BULLOCK
Staff Reporter
sbullock@cortlandstandardnews.net

After 18 years and countless customers, Cindy and Joe DeLaney are closing Jodi’s Hallmark store on Main Street.
The DeLaney’s are closing the card and gift shop June 28 so that they can have more time to spend with their two adult children in Cape May, N.J.
“We have been so blessed to have this store,” Cindy DeLaney said Wednesday afternoon. “It doesn’t have anything to do with how business is.”
The couple is looking to move to a new phase, DeLaney said — one that does not require so many hours.
“It’s a huge commitment, one we’ve been happy to do for 18 years,” DeLaney said. “Anybody who owns a business knows you don’t just leave your business for the weekend — you take it with you.”
“We just don’t want to put in 70 hours a week anymore,” she said.
DeLaney was quick to note that working downtown has been a wonderful experience.
“I understand that any store leaving is difficult, but that’s everywhere, not just downtown,” DeLaney said. “But it’s great down here and I hope they fill it quickly.”
DeLaney has spent 38 years in the retail industry, starting out at a discount shoe store out of high school and then moving on to run a drug store for 10 years before buying the Hallmark store with her husband in 1995.
Jodi’s Hallmark employs one full-time and two part-time workers, DeLaney said. During the holiday season, the store adds one full-time position and three part-time posts.
The two, regular-season part-time workers are retired and work for extra cash, DeLaney said.
The DeLaneys announced they were closing the store in March but made the decision to close the store six months ago.
Jodi’s Hallmark began discounting merchandise Monday and markdowns will continue to increase as June 28 nears, DeLaney said, adding that she has already gotten calls about the store’s fixtures and furniture.
June was selected for the closing date because the DeLaneys wanted to have good weather when they took time off to spend with their children, she said.
DeLaney said the best part of owning Jodi’s Hallmark, and what she will miss most after she leaves, is her relationships with the customers.
“They’re not just customers walking in, they’re friends,” she said.
But there have been low points at the store, too.
On Jan. 31, 2011, DeLaney was robbed by Joseph Drogalis, 34, of Ithaca, as she was closing her store for the evening. Drogalis had placed his hand in his coat pocket as if he had a gun and demanded money, taking $438.
Drogalis was sentenced in February to two to four years in state prison.
As scary as the experience must have been, DeLaney does not let it taint her feelings about running her business.
“I think anybody in business struggles,” she said, counting the robbery as just another struggle. “I don’t really focus on that because it hasn’t defined us.”
Closing the store will not be a retirement for the DeLaneys — Joe works in the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and Cindy also has job prospects, but is mum as to what they are.
“I will find something to do, I’m sure,” DeLaney said. “I’m not too concerned about it at this point. I’m going to take some time off.”
Cindy DeLaney said the couple have no plans to open another business.
Lin Ajsterowiez, a longtime customer, was disappointed that the store was closing, but was glad that the DeLaneys are moving on to a new chapter in their lives.
“For her (Cindy DeLaney) on the personal level, I’m very happy,” said Ajsterowiez, of Homer. “As far as downtown, it’s definitely going to leave a void.”
A Hallmark store has been on Main Street for about 40 years, said Delaney. In the early 1970s a Hallmark-affiliated Love of Pete was opened by two pharmacists from Rochester who had a small chain of drug and card stores.
Love of Pete was only a card store and not one of the pharmacists’ drug stores, DeLaney said.
In 1995, Joe DeLaney saw a sign in the window advertising the business was for sale and inquired, launching the couple’s joint venture, she said. The store’s name, Jodi’s Hallmark, is a combination of the couple’s names — Joe and Cindy.

 

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