Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

39° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Stationery store to close after seven years in the business

As Lloyd Allison, entered the store A La Card Inc. from the back room, two gray-haired customers looked up from their perusing.

“It’s so nice to see old friends,” he said. After a pause, he corrected himself: “I mean, friends of long standing.”

For the past seven years, A La Card Inc., 816 Church St., has been a place where regulars are known by name. But the store, nestled between The Rub and a bank on Church Street, will close Sunday due to “financial reasons,” said the owners, husband and wife Lloyd and Rita Allison.

“We always said, ‘Next year will be the year it turns around,’ and it never happened,” Lloyd Allison said. “Once you’ve made the decision, everything else is easy. It’s reaching the decision that’s hard.”

The Allisons started the store in 2001 while they were also running a gift store in downtown Evanston called Mostly Handmade Incorporated. Rita Allison’s favorite part of the store was the section where they sold cards, which is what inspired the creation of A La Card Inc.

Since then, the store has “lived through sewer construction, bridge construction and high-rise construction,” said Lloyd Allison.

His wife also reflected on the challenges.

“What’s kept me going for so long is how interesting the people are that come in here, the customers,” Rita Allison said. “You never know who’s going to walk in the door; it’s kind of fun.”

After closing, Lloyd Allison will continue managing an insurance agency and Rita Allison may return to teaching. The space itself will remain empty for now, Rita Allison said.

“The space is for rent but I’m pretty sure they don’t have anyone, yet,” she said. “I have a real good relationship with the landlords because they’re my brothers.”

In preparation for the closing, the Allisons are selling their wares for up to 75 percent off. Thank-you notes and get-well cards gleam from display racks like candy in a candy shop. One apology card bears “i may be dumb, but at least I’m not dumb,” in kindergarten scrawl, while other cards display masterpieces like Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”

“Maybe 80 to 90 percent of the paper that I have here is American-made, and I can talk to the people that produce the cards,” Rita Allison said. “They’re small photographers that are in business for themselves or small companies. It’s a connection to how something is produced or made or grown.”

During the store’s seven years, local businesses have learned to rely on the couple.

“(Rita and Lloyd) are like the neighbors you can borrow a cup of sugar from,” said Henry Walton, the owner of the massage therapy business The Rub next door. “We’ll definitely miss them.”

Peering at the clearance sale signs and empty book cases, Rita Allison reflected on her years running the business.

“I just had such a ball doing this,” Rita Allison said. “And it’s time for it to stop.”

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Nick Infusino/the daily northwestern

Owners Rita and Lloyd Allison will close the doors to A La Card Inc. on Sunday, citing financial reasons.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Stationery store to close after seven years in the business