On March 10, 1948, Dale T. Kirlin, Sr. and his wife Marian opened their first little candy store in Quincy, IL. called "Andes Candies", named after the Chicago based-candy company. The store was located just 39 steps from the corner of 6th & Maine, in uptown Quincy at 108 North 6th Street. After numerous requests of customers to offer greeting cards with their fine candy, Dale and Marian added the Hallmark card line to their little candy store after they were in business a couple of years. They never dreamed what that association would grow into over the years.
Dale Kirlin, Sr. remembers, "I had to borrow $5,000 from my wife's brother to open that store, that's how poor we were. We had to struggle in those early years. I'd take out before daylight in my station wagon to deliver merchandise and seldom got back before dark." He continued, "In the beginning we thought we might grow to four or five stores, but never conceived reaching 100 stores!" The Kirlin company grew to 17 stores for the 20th anniversary, by the 25th anniversary that number had expanded to 32 stores and Kirlin's had become the third largest Hallmark multiple dealer in the country. Between 1976 to 1979 the company grew from 35 stores to 63. By the late 80's we were nearly 80 stores strong. A steady growth pattern has continued and Kirlin's opened the 100th store on January 9, 1998.
From this small beginning the Kirlin operation has grown to become Hallmark's largest independent distributor in the USA today. An American dream come true, Kirlin's now operate 91 stores located in the ten Midwestern states of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. We are proud to say we got our start in Quincy, IL and Quincy is still the home office base for the progressive leader in the world's social expression industry.
The Kirlin company is today, as in the beginning family owned and operated. The present Kirlin team is led by Dale Kirlin, Jr. chairman and Gary Kirlin, company president. They recall the humble beginnings - hand packing candy in the family basement and personally delivering products to customers, but they say the struggles toughened their resolve and turned dreams into reality. They believe their success over the years have come from a commitment to serving their customers with innovative Hallmark product, quality gifts, treasured collectibles and fine chocolates and candies.
Today, Kirlin's is a pioneer in customer service in the social expression industry in America. The key to the success of Kirlin's and it's customer service program has been our Sales Associates committed not only to meeting their customers' need, but exceeding their customers' expectations of service.
Please click here to read a story from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.