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Behind the Scenes of a Small Biz: In May Came a Record Sales Day

Editor's Note: This article is the fifth installment in our "Winning the Card Game" series. Dana Norman and Michele Rothberg acquired discount greeting card store Card$mart in June 2011. They agreed to let TheStreet follow them for one year as they experience the ups and downs of running a business. Based on advice from their accountant, the owners have declined to share revenue and profit numbers.

PLAINVIEW, N.Y. ( TheStreet) -- When Card$mart of Plainview ran out of Valentine's cards in February as frantic shoppers came searching for anything to give their loved ones last minute, co-owner Dana Norman vowed that wouldn't happen again.

So when Norman and her partner ordered inventory for Mother's Day -- a holiday that is one of the busiest in terms of card sales -- they were sure to be prepared.

"Mother's day was very crazy," Norman says. "We had our record sales day, which was the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. We learned from our mistakes from Valentine's Day. We over-ordered cards. We did a ton of business."

Not only did they prepare for the extra business on the card inventory side, but they also ordered extra gift inventory. Customers were apparently buying everything they could get their hands on in the store.

"They were buying cards, they were buying gifts, they were buying everything we had. I wish every day was like that," she says.

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Norman says having merchandise left over is preferable to not having enough because Mother's Day cards can always be put out again next year. "We're not the drug store. We're the card store. You should be able to come in here the day of the holiday and there should still be cards available," she says.

For all their preparedness on the inventory side, Mother's Day weekend did come with a few hitches. Between actual customers squeezing by each other in the store and various minor problems that arose, the store at times was literally overwhelmed and seemed to burst at the seams. The store's cash register broke (they had a spare in the back); the register ran out of change (Norman, who was not working the Saturday before Mother's Day, went to the bank to get change); and the paper in the credit card machine jammed.

The partners did bring in one extra employee to help (bringing the total to three). Norman says the square footage of the store -- and especially behind the counter -- doesn't really allow for too many more workers.

"It was so busy it was impossible to straighten out the cards. You couldn't. We wanted to move out of the way for customers. We can't afford a bigger store so we try to squeeze merchandise in every corner," she says. "It was our busiest day, since our ownership, in one-day sales. It blew Valentine's Day away."