Originally published 2/27/07 by Kevin Nickel.
May company has made 30 to 32 designs of gift cards for their stores starting in 1998 or early 1999. In the Holiday selling guide from December 1997 for Famous Barr and L.S. Ayers they state, “Always the prefect gift!” speaking of Famous and Ayers printed paper gift certificates available in $10, $25, $50, and $100 denominations.
In the December 1999 Famous Barr company newsletter, gift cards make their first appearance saying, “ In addition to the original “everyday” card, gift cards are now available in two holiday designs and a special wedding wishes design.” adding “available on the Net too!” The everyday card they refer to is the blue generic card which says THE GIFT CARD and has the company name below. This was May company’s first design followed by the gift card with snowy branches, red box gift card with gold bow, and the light blue wedding gift card. To train their employees in ringing up gift card sales a dozen or so cards were made with the original blue design but having a unique reverse design which states TRAINING TRAINING.
By the December 2000 issue of the newsletter it states that special cards are issued for occasions such as Mothers Day, Back to School, and Fathers Day. These are the Fathers Day card with the black car, the Mothers Day card with the purple daisy background and the School. Ready? Card showing boys & girls. So these were their earliest cards.
The list of May company Stores at this time were as follows; Famous Barr, Kaufmanns, Hechts, Filenes, Foleys, L.S. Ayers, Strawbridges, Meier & Frank, The Jones Store, and Robinsons-May. 32 different designs were made but some stores only carried 30 or 31, Famous Barr for example had 31 never having the red bow Feliz Navidad card. I know all 32 cards exist for Kaufmanns. A few special occasion cards do exist also including some Spanish cards for Robinsons-May and a March of Dimes card for Foleys. There are of course earlier cards of different designs for these stores before becoming May co. stores.
Examples of all these cards can be found in the gallery but not all for all stores. I have found the five hardest of these card to get now are the School. Ready?, Black car Fathers Day, Purple daisy Mothers Day, Red Bow Feliz Navid, and the Happy Hanukah! Cards. This makes sense since these are some of the older and less bought cards. The newest group of cards distributed by May Co. included the Butterflies, Dalmatian, Red Enjoy!, Boy pulling tree, Pink daisy, and the Cartoon Snowman. By the way the card with the smiling dancing gift box has a name, she is Anita Gift and this was a short lived holiday commercial as well as gift card. Some cards do come in 2 different reverse sides which list each May Co. store slightly differently.
May Company did purchase Lord & Taylor and Marshall Fields but each of these stores already had a good variety of their own cards in use and the 32 basic designs were never made with the 2 stores names on them. Of course now all these stores have either been discontinued or are Macys stores and these cards now are obsolete. Lord & Taylor is the possible exception being in retail limbo right now they are a part of Federated (Macys) stores waiting to be sold off. So they may stand alone once more sometime in the future. That’s all for now and if anyone ever finds a Famous Barr card with the red bow and Feliz Navidad, call me I’m ready to trade.