American Greeting's founding family is trying to take the company private. It’s been hit by e-cards, like most paper products companies.
American Greeting's founding family is trying to take the company private. It’s been hit by e-cards, like most paper products companies. - 
Listen To The Story

The nation’s largest publicly held greeting card company may soon go back to being a private company. American Greetings is announcing its quarterly earnings Wednesday, amidst a takeover bid from the card maker’s founding family.

The company is considering the offer as it navigates an increasingly tough market for printed cards. At a time when the Internet offers many options for saying hello, American Greetings has seen fairly steady income growth. Stock prices have risen on the news that members of the company’s founding family want to take it private. Its chief rival, Hallmark, remains a privately held company. 

Greeting Card Association spokeswoman Kathy Krassner says traditional paper cards are still important.

“You wouldn’t send a text to your grandmother for Mother’s Day, nor would you just send an email to your wife for Valentine’s day,” she says. “Unless you want to be in the doghouse.”

But Krassner admits sales of greeting cards are down. For the last decade or so, Americans have bought around seven billion cards per year. This year, that’s down to 6.5 billion.

Pam Danziger, president of the research firm Unity Marketing, says greeting card companies have to compete with custom websites -- that let you put a photo of your cat, if you’re so inclined, right on your party invitation.

“I think that they really are just behind when it comes to companies like Snapfish and Zazzle,” she says.

Danziger says those companies have made a mark -- especially with younger consumers who are much more likely to send a text than a card.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.