By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
The COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing stay-at-home orders have wrecked havoc on small retail businesses. It also wrecked havoc on most people’s Easter holiday traditions. So it is especially special that local Hallmark retailer Elams’ Hallmark managed to build a lemonade stand in the midst of so many lemons.
The Elam family, which owns nine Gold Crown Hallmark stores in the San Diego region, including one in La Mesa’s Grossmont Center, shut down eight of their stores indefinately on March 20 by order of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Carmel Valley store remains open due to the U.S. Post Office located inside.
The closures were a real blow to the business, with the lucrative Easter holiday just ahead and stores packed with Easter items that would now go unpurchased. Something had to be done with the items that would spoil, but what?
“We had about $15,000 of Easter candy combined in the eight stores that were closed,” said Christie Elam-Manry. “I called the San Diego Food Bank to donate and they told me they will not accept anything considered unhealthy.”
Although candy was too unhealthy for the food bank, it was healthy enough for another group of deserving recipients.
“Plan B, we decided the health care workers would love a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny — we turned lemons into lemonade,” Elam-Manry said. “I delivered a large amount of yummy chocolate and jelly beans for the hospital workers to enjoy to Scripps Encinitas, Sharp Memorial, Radys’ Children’s, Sharp Grossmont and Pomerado Hospital in Poway. We spread the love to as many hospitals that are located close to our stores, many of the workers are our customers — we wanted to thank them. This is such a scary pandemic with so many people sick and dying, this is the least we can do to put smiles on the Health care workers faces.”
The hospitals were appreciative. In a thank you letter, Scripps Memorial Hospital’s gift shop coordinator told the Elam-Manry that the hospital administration staff assembled 17 large Easter baskets with the gift from Hallmark.
“Those baskets were then delivered to all of our nursing units and clinical area break rooms so that staff could enjoy a sweet treat on their break,” wrote Reyes. “I’m certain it’s not what you had planned when you ordered your Easter Candy several months ago, but trust me when I say that your candy made its way into the hands (and tummies) of those who are working so hard right now and appreciate it more than you know.”
—Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.