AMERICAN GREETINGS CORP. began as a one-man card-jobbing business founded in 1906 by JACOB SAPIRSTEIN, a recent immigrant and son of a Polish rabbi. By 1993 it was the world's largest publicly owned manufacturer and distributor of greeting cards, with $1.6 billion in sales and a net income of $112 million. In the 1930s the Sapirstein Greeting Card Co. included the founder and his 3 sons, operating from the family residence at 852 E. 95th St. The company moved to larger quarters in 1932 and Sapirstein, dissatisfied with the cards then available, began to design and print his own. The company incorporated with $18,000 in capital in 1934. By 1939 it was operating as the American Greetings Publishers Co. and incorporated under that name on 29 Jan. 1944. Sales topped $1 million in 1940. The company became the American Greetings Corp. in 1952 and offered stock to the public for the first time. By its 50th anniversary in 1956, American Greetings operated 9 plants in Cleveland, turning out 1.8 million cards daily. Four years later Irving I. Stone succeeded Jacob Sapirstein, his father, as president. The company bought the House of Paper in 1964 to better compete in the production and sale of ribbon, gift wrap, and other party goods. In 1967 American Greetings introduced Holly Hobbie, the first of a series known as Those Characters from Cleveland, that were licensed to appear on the products of other companies. As a result of such innovations, net income grew from $11.8 million in 1972 to $113.7 million in 1994. Although its last Cleveland plant on W. 117 St. was converted into a warehouse in the 1980s, the company maintains its headquarters in the suburb of BROOKLYN. In 1993 it employed the full-time equivalent of 21,400 workers in 31 plants in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico.
In 1992 the company launched CreataCard, an interactive electronic kiosk in which consumers create personalized greeting cards, and by 1995 had 10,000 CreataCard kiosks in operation around the world. In 1995 Irving I. Stone continued as chairman of the company, and was named one of the first two inductees in the Retail Excellence Supplier Hall of Honor, an award sponsored by the magazine Drug Store News.