Off The Press — Ornament artists are treated like rock stars

September 2, 2014

By Kathleen R. Merrill

If you don’t collect anything, you may not understand collectors. But you can certainly appreciate people loving what they love.

When I first received a news release about two Hallmark Keepsake Ornament artists coming to Mark’s Hallmark here in Issaquah, I thought, “Well, that’s interesting for people who collect them.”

Then, I learned that Issaquah’s store was the only one in the Northwest and one of only 14 in the country that would have artist signings this year. Then, I learned that the last time an artist came to Washington state was in 1995, for a Hallmark convention in Seattle.

Needless to say, Mark’s Hallmark Manager Feeleece Carrillo was pumped about the event. She thought there would possibly be hundreds of customers from multiple states, bringing their ornaments to be signed by Don Palmiter and Matt Johnson.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Kathleen R. Merrill
Press managing editor

Actually, there were 1,107 customers, most of whom were from out of town and/or out of state, including people from Texas, Hawaii and California. Some even came from Canada. The 324 event pieces the store had were sold, and $347 and about 15 pounds of food were raised for the Issaquah Food Bank.

Feeleece got up at 5 a.m. for the big day; people were lining up at the store well before its 7 a.m. opening. The artists started signing at 10 a.m.

By 10:30, people were everywhere — in the parking lot with boxes of boxes of ornaments, either trying to get them organized for signing or repacking them after signing; posing for photos, with the artists and with other people, some with years worth of ornaments in the pictures; people getting in line over and over again, to get more than one set of ornaments signed; and people clutching packages with glee after obtaining the sought-after autographs.

Elizabeth Eck, of Seabeck outside Silverdale, came with her daughter-in-law Therese Eck to meet Palmiter and Johnson, and get multiple ornaments signed. Elizabeth went to a similar event in California a few years ago.

“It’s a very big deal,” she said of getting ornaments signed, “because it makes them more valuable.”

However, when asked if she would ever sell them, she replied with wide eyes, “Oh no!”

Elizabeth said she has the whole current collection of Hallmark ornaments. When asked how many she had total, Therese chimed in, “She has Hallmark coming out of her ying yang. At least 20 tubs.”

Palmiter and Johnson were besieged like rock stars. And they were kind and friendly to everyone, delighted to sign their names in tiny script over and over again.

One woman summed up the feelings of many people as she dove at Feeleece, hugging her fiercely, crying out, “Thank you a million times over for having this!”


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