At Cards R Less, the name of the store tells the story. Consider 45 cents for a studio card, 79 cents for a cellophane-wrapped greeting card bearing a $2.79 manufacturer's imprint, 25 cents for a picture postcard among a selection of 80 varied imprints. "Our cards are all new, nothing second," said Debbie Mentz, co-owner of the family business with her son, Brian Mentz. "We never buy closeouts, only new from the factory."
The shop, which has operated behind the Beacon Stadium 10 Theater in Western Way Plaza on Cortez Boulevard for the past 15 years, recently moved down several storefronts to make way for an expansion of the theater.
"The new location is fabulous," said Debbie Mentz, 61. It's a slightly larger space, freshly painted, brighter lighted, everything new. . . . We're looking forward to being in that location quite a few more years."
As for selection and pricing, Mentz noted, "We carry a couple of the higher lines (of cards) for people who want more, but they never go above 99 cents."
Boxed cards, including an abundance of Christmas cards, are 70 percent off manufacturers' suggested prices. Christmas cards are currently being ordered. Customers may peruse a catalog from which they may place orders.
Customers won't find cards with a crown imprint or other highly advertised brands. But most are like or similar in quality of paper stock, print, and appropriate, creative messages.
"We cut corners on our end," Mentz said, mentioning direct buys from manufacturers that print cards only in response to orders.
Cards R Less can order in bulk since it also has stores in Hudson and New Port Richey. In addition, from its warehouse in Pasco County, it sells cards at wholesale prices to other outlets.
Mentz said the company started in Tampa, but moved to locations with more retirees.
"It's elderly people who aren't into computers who send greeting cards," she said. "(And) the elderly are on fixed incomes."
In response to demand by older customers, the shop offers dedicated boxes of get-well and sympathy cards.
Snowbirds figure prominently in the customer base.
"When they come in, they load up, taking boxes and boxes back North," Mentz said. "When they come back in September, that's when we're really busy.
"We get a lot of groups that come in and buy cases — car dealers, doctor's offices, lawyers, who buy (cards) to send to their clients," she added.
Cards R Less also offers small lines of inexpensive stationery, gift wraps, children's coloring and activity books, stickers, enclosure message cards, jewelry, a recently expanded tabletop decor line and, as a convenience to customers, books of postage stamps.
"I plan on adding more products as we go along," Mentz said. "I'm always looking for new lines to put in, too."
Shirley Zak manages the Spring Hill store and three employees.
Brian Mentz and his wife, Amy, manage the warehouse.
Beth Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.