Store manager Melissa Loiselle with an array of Valentine’s Day items at CardSmart in Dracut. photo by Debbie Hovanasian
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DRACUT — From the street, CardSmart is a little deceiving. Walking through its doors, the size of the store and the huge variety of gifts and collectibles lining the shelves are surprising. In spite of its name, this store is not just about discounted cards and gift wrap. In fact, it carries many of the gift and novelty items that Dracut residents may travel to another town, the mall or even New Hampshire to seek out.

Need a birthday gift for someone special, an encouragement gift for someone undergoing cancer treatment, graduations, christenings, first communions, holidays? Melissa Loiselle, manager, likely has stocked just what you’re looking for, right in your own hometown.

Oh, yes, and there cards too — more than 1,400 of them.

The Dracut store originated in Westford and moved to Dracut two years ago. Reggie and Seija Lherault own the Dracut CardSmart along with one in Chelmsford — two of about 200 CardSmart stores nationwide. Dracut, says Reggie Lherault, has been incredibly supportive.

Loiselle, a mother of a 5-year-old son, Christopher, recently answered five questions for the Dispatch and gave a tour of the store.

Q: What’s your busier season, Christmas or Valentine’s?

A: Christmas. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day because not everyone has a significant other, so not everyone cares to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Christmas is all about bringing families together. We sell a lot of cards and gifts for Christmas, everything across the board.

Q: Do you have anything new and different for Valentine’s Day?

A: We have a new line of purses by a company called Flaunt. They are leatherette and come in bright red and for everyday use, we have black and teal. We also sell a wooden-style rose that is scented. And we tend to sell a lot of costume jewelry for Valentine’s Day. You can’t go wrong with a heart necklace.

Q: What is your most popular demographic and product?

A: I work mostly during the day, so I see a lot of the senior citizen community. At night, there are a lot of families who come in, and on weekends many moms with their children. That’s why we are stocking a lot of Melissa and Doug items. When we first opened people were looking more for collectibles like Precious Moments. Now it’s more something that captures the sentiment of what they are looking for. There’s also a huge increase in scarves and jewelry. In this economy, people are still into fashion, but not as much into collecting. Probably our biggest sellers are jewelry and Element Angels.

Q: Are discounters like CardSmart picking up the business of big-name stores, some of which are closing?

A: The big draw here is that cards are half off. A $3 card here will cost you $1.50. And that applies to gift bags and wrapping paper, too. Even the drug stores will cost more than that. We also have a great variety of cards, gifts and collectibles. Where other stores might stock 20 pieces of the Precious Moments or Cherished Teddies line, we’ll carry a hundred pieces.

Q: Are you filling a niche in Dracut for cards and gifts?

A: I would hope so. Before we relocated from Westford we drove around the town to see if the move would be beneficial. We noticed that there were no other places that offer this type of shopping. We have lots of repeat customers — some every day! — and lots of our business comes from word of mouth. People come in all the time and tell us that they are so glad that we are here and they want us to do well.

Online shopping available at www.dracutcardsmart.com; CardSmart is on Facebook. 1140 Lakeview Avenue (Coravos Plaza, next to Mama’s Restaurant). 978-674-0127.