Convenient greetings
February 14, 2020 2:01 AM   Subscribe

Can you buy greetings cards in convenience stores in the USA? If yes, what is the selection like: just birthday cards, or a bigger range?

The reason I’m asking is that I had a dream last night where a British journalist had caused a controversy by writing a fiery op-ed about how dreadful it was that American convenience stores didn’t sell greetings cards. Shortly after this, I, a Brit, had to buy a condolence card for a fellow Mefite in an American suburb, on a Sunday, no less. I felt very self-conscious as I scoured the shelves for cards and heard people talking about me behind my back.

I guess I’m asking for reassurance that this anxiety dream won’t come true! Besides, now I’m curious.
posted by daisyk to Shopping (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not generally, no. You might find a weird dusty rack at larger, truck stop type convenience stores, but it's not typical stock for the corner gas station anywhere I've ever lived.
posted by CheeseLouise at 2:10 AM on February 14

I'm a convenience store frequent visitor and while I've seen the occasional high-holiday card (for greeting card holidays, e.g. today) in a temporary display, I can say that they are not a common thing. However, I mainly go to chain stores, e.g. 7-Eleven; the local hole-in-the-wall shops that're usually family run can carry just about anything, depending on how ambitious the vendor and how much of a pushover the store's buyer (be they mom or pop).

So, I'd say no with about 98% confidence.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:11 AM on February 14

Yep. Local stores carry them.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:11 AM on February 14

Well the local gas station no, but local walgreens/cvs which are like pharmacy combined with a general store do.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:13 AM on February 14 [9 favorites]

There was a family owned convenience store near where I lived for some years that had an excellent greeting card selection. They carried a line of cards the other stores in the area didn't. This was remarkable because convenience stores do not, as a rule, carry greeting cards.
posted by bryon at 2:56 AM on February 14

Larger convenience stores carry them. Smaller ones often don’t. Variety of occasions covered again will depend on the size of the store. If the store has a section selling paper and envelopes they probably also sell greeting cards.
posted by phoenixy at 3:03 AM on February 14

Most gas stations don’t, but dollar stores do and usually have at least some at 2/$1. Most grocery stores have a full selection too, as well as drugstores like Walgreens, cvs, etc.
posted by Slinga at 3:25 AM on February 14

For me, "convenience store" means something like WH Smith (which maybe still falls into the "newsagent" bucket in Britain?), so 7-11 or White Hen (which has apparently gone under). Shops at gas stations are, in my mind, different, but certainly convenience store-adjacent. At any rate, I would not expect either to sell greeting cards, at least not reliably. I would definitely not expect a bodega to sell greeting cards, but you also never know what one particular shop may have (that said, there's a shop kind of near me that has "greetings" on its sign--I've never been in, though, so I can't tell you if this is just a very old sign (it also mentions "sundries") or if it's a bodega that sells greeting cards).

Generally pharmacies* will sell them (so Walgreens, CVS, but also independent pharmacies, if they have space), supermarkets, general non-fancy stationery stores (which are very rare), big box stores. Basically, shops that are a bit bigger than a convenience store. (Though some gas station shops are huge. But that tends to lead to more beer, more junk food or more auto-related oddments, rather than a broader array of products.)

*I call any chemist-type shop a 'pharmacy'. I think people usually call them "drug stores". I'm not sure this is standard American usage--I once caused much confusion in Minnesota asking if there was a pharmacy nearby and people presumed I wanted to fill a prescription, not buy cough drops.
posted by hoyland at 3:29 AM on February 14

A convenience store in the US is generally attached to a gas station and will not have greeting cards except in special situations.

Go to a drug store, a grocery store, or a big box store, which are just as widely available as a convenience store.
posted by jeoc at 3:43 AM on February 14

Part of the problem is nomenclature. There’s at least three very different things that Americans may call a ‘convenience store.’ (Large truck stops like Flying J or Travel America always have them)

Urban bodegas seem to often have a few cards, just like they often have some cut flowers etc. But it is variably and you can’t count on it. These are independently owned, small, and have generic names like $Neighborhood Market or Corner stop.

Suburban gas station stores (Circle K, Shell, Marathon etc) are much less likely to have any cards, though they will always have milk and cigarettes, ibuprofen, other conveniences.

Drug stores (CVS, Wallgreens) almost certainly have some, often a large selection. My large CVS is in a very walkable location and has at two long racks of cards, across a zillion topics.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:17 AM on February 14 [8 favorites]

Little stores that fit in the center island of a gas station: probably not. But I've seen a lot of 7-11 size convenience stores that carried greeting cards, generally in a spinning rack like you might see for postcards in tourist shops.
posted by LionIndex at 5:52 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Most convenience stores (including those at gas stations) do not, but occasionally they will have a handful. The 7-11 next to my old apartment had a (small, poor) selection.

Standalone pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens...) will have a selection, including seasonal ones, and usually also have a small selection of gift bags/wrap.

In cities, there are a lot more small stores popping up (like mini city Targets) that have card displays.

In suburbs, any grocery store will have a card aisle, and the big box stores (Target, Walmart) will also.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:25 AM on February 14

IME this is quite regional. In rural WY, where my family lives, convenience stores will generally have greeting cards. In Washington DC, where I live, or Oakland, CA, where I spent my twenties, this was not generally the case.

(WY convenience stores may be an outlier - they also usually have a pocketknife case and probably a cowboy hat rack).
posted by aspersioncast at 7:12 AM on February 14

As a Canadian data point, at least urban Canada, my experience is the same as my American neighbours. Your local gas-station convenience - probably not. A corner store, maybe a small selection if you're lucky, but dont count on it. Chain drug stores, box box, grocery stores however all have rows of them. And Shoppers Drug Mart is so prevalent in my area (I used to pass 3 just walking to work) finding a card at any one of them would be easy.
posted by cgg at 7:12 AM on February 14

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