Computers let you fill in the _____ about Mom


Tired of the sappy, syrupy card selection for Mother's Day? Now there's a card for every mom, thanks to the interactive age of computers. You can get a printout of your own verse on quality paper at a card shop near you, and tell Mom, well, she's swell.

Or you can be more creative, like Vincent Conigliaro of Catonsville, who wrote:

I think you are the best

damn mother around.

Thank you for teaching me

to be a pro bowler.

Love, your very cocky son

who was first born.

"I am tired of mushy cards that don't say what you want to say," says Mr. Conigliaro, who confesses that he isn't really a pro bowler. "I came close to being one, though, and my mother is always trying to take credit for that," he says, adding that she has a good sense of humor.

"We wanted to tap into the whole personalization trend," says Sherry Timbrook, spokeswoman for Hallmark, whose system "Personalize it!" was introduced three years ago. "We've found that people have been coming back to use it again and again."

The company now has 1,200 of the computers in stores across the country.

American Greetings Co. began placing its version, "CreataCard, in retail stores in July. Nationwide, it has about 2,300 computers in stores.

Jane Butler, who lives near Catonsville, wanted to send a card to her husband's aunt. "It's not an 'Aunt's Day' and she never had kids," says Ms. Butler, as she punched in the sentiment:

&So; Wade and I have declared

that today is YOUR DAY!

Happy Kitty's Day!

We love you!

The computers are user-friendly, too, although some adults are wary of them, says Bob Gardner, manager of Matthews Hallmark in Owings Mills Town Center.

To get people used to the idea, some stores, like the Card Corral in Catonsville, are offering free coupons for a limited time. The cost is usually about $3.50. Invitations, birth and other announcements can also be personalized. The cost ranges from $3.25 to $7.75.

Here's how the computers generally work:

People choose from among about 200 cards in 10 categories (Mother's Day, graduation, birthdays, etc.), which have drawings them. The drawings can be flowers, a sports car, birds, telephone or other things.

The customer has a choice of either writing the entire verse from scratch or filling in the person's name with a verse that is already composed. It can be written on a keyboard or a touch screen.

The card is then printed out.

And is the product worthy of Mom? Ask Mr. Conigliaro.

"It doesn't look fake or anything," he says.

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