American Greetings Corporation
Polish immigrant Jacob Sapirstein arrived in the United States in 1905. He moved to the city of Cleveland, Ohio, the following year and started his own business. Sapirstein sold German postcards to local drug stores and other businesses. He was very successful in his efforts, but during World War I the United States no longer imported postcards and other items from Germany. An enterprising businessman, Sapirstein found American manufacturers to supply his product. He expanded his offerings to include greeting cards as well. His business continued to thrive both during and after the war.
Although the Great Depression hit many businesses hard during the 1930s, that was not the case for the greeting card industry. Americans often could not afford to buy someone a present during the Great Depression, but greeting cards were inexpensive and provided a good alternative. By this time, Sapirstein's three sons had joined the family business. The four men decided to start printing their own greeting cards, rather than relying on a supply from other companies. This plan was an immediate success, and in 1938 the company changed its name from the Sapirstein Greeting Card Company to American Greetings Publishers.
American Greetings continued to prosper during and after World War II. The war and economic opportunities after the war meant that many Americans had moved far from friends and families. Greeting cards allowed Americans to keep in touch with their loved ones. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1952 and soon became the largest public-owned greeting card company in the world. In addition to printing traditional greeting cards and postcards, American Greetings began to offer new greeting card designs that related to popular culture and trends of the twentieth century. The company introduced such well-loved characters as Holly Hobbie, Strawberry Shortcake, and the Care Bears to the greeting card market.
One reason for American Greetings Corporation's success in the 1990s and the early twenty-first century has been its willingness to embrace new technology. The company launched its own website in 1996, offering for sale both traditional cards and electronic greeting cards. American Greetings further expanded its influence on the greeting card market in 2000, with the acquisition of Gibson Greetings. Carlton Cards is another American Greetings line. Today, the company's headquarters is still located in Cleveland.