Recently, I had an unexpected surprise going into my neighborhood Hallmark store at 48th Street and Ray Road. The store has always been a welcoming place to shop for its variety of merchandise, but more importantly for the friendships that I have developed through the years with the ladies who were ever-present and most helpful. For me, that has all changed. I walked in to find the entire store in disarray, no one familiar, and no help when I asked for it. I was told that the store was now to be a "corporate" store and that they were in the process of incorporating the change.

I have lived in Ahwatukee since 1990 and have seen many changes through the years, from the early years when we had to travel out of the area for almost everything to the happy days of many of our needs being met right in our own community. It is a huge disappointment to see the direction that life in "our little heaven on earth" is taking. Shops like our Hallmark store were always much more than a place to run in to for a card or gift, but often a gathering place to visit with friends and neighbors while shopping for an extra something I didn't know I needed. Too many of the stores are being changed or closed altogether, remember Mervyn's?

When I asked the person working there now about the ladies who had been the mainstay of the shop, I was told that they no longer were employed at the store. The sense of loss is hard to explain because, although I know all their first names, I have no way to now say goodbye or thank you to them for always caring about my family and my health, and for being so kind and helpful. So to Debbie, Shirley, Marilyn and Jane in the post office part of the store, a loss unto itself, and to everyone whose name I'm not individually mentioning, you are in my thoughts. You made the Hallmark store a pleasure to visit and spend money in.

Carol Engel

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