BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
With T-shirts ranging from handsome to humorous displayed in the prominent front window, it’s difficult not to pause in front of Greetings at the corner of East Kirkwood and North Dunn Street.
“Our job is not to impose our personal worldview on people,” Greetings founder Robert Jacobs says about his gift store. “Our job is to make sure that when people come into Greetings, no matter their walk of life or economic status, they are able to find something that piques their interest, makes them laugh, makes them think, and easily fits into their budget.”
Robert’s retail philosophy apparently works. In August 1983, he and his wife Rosemary opened their original eclectic shop in Dunkirk Square. The store moved to 429 E. Kirkwood the following year and now is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Greetings carries a staggering collection of gift items: flasks, wallets, jewelry, solar-powered toys, action figures, coffee mugs, shot glasses, temporary tattoos, journals, tote bags, an extensive array of IU clothing and accessories, and plenty of greeting cards that might make the reader guffaw in the aisle.
Robert and Rosemary have known each other since they were toddlers growing up in Carmel and chose to make Bloomington their home after graduating from Indiana University. Robert became a successful sales rep, first with Sunrise Greetings, the local greeting-card company, and then Recycled Paper Products. When offered a promotion that would move his family to Chicago, Robert turned it down, preferring to remain in Bloomington. “The culture, safety, and sense of community that Bloomington had to offer was something anyone would be lucky to find and the perfect place to raise our daughter, Sarah,” he says.
Longtime Bloomingtonians have seen Greetings change from its original focus on greeting cards to a gift shop with a broad array of products, which is another part of the Jacobses’ business strategy. “We travel across the country several times annually to find the newest, freshest products available,” explains daughter Sarah Sater, now the buyer for her parents’ store. “Nearly every company that Greetings represents has a story behind it. We get to know the artists, the reps, and the CEOs alike.”
The store packs approximately 8,000 different products from 120 companies in its 1,350-square-foot space.
“If customers leave Greetings a little bit happier than when they came in, I feel like I’ve done my job,” says Sater.