Emanuel Kain, 70, turned newsstand into national chain of card stores


Emanuel Kain, who turned a newspaper and greeting card business into a national card chain, died Wednesday of leukemia at his Park Heights Avenue residence. He was 70.

The Card Mart chain, which grew to 60 stores from New York to Florida and west to Texas, had its beginnings at North and Linden avenues, where Mr. Kain operated a newspaper and greeting card kiosk with his partner, Dave Sherry.

Selling more cards than newspapers and magazines, they decided to concentrate on the card business and opened their first store in 1956 in the new Mondawmin Mall, according to Diana Sipe of Baltimore, a daughter.

"They each raised $2,000, which they borrowed from relatives, in-laws and banks," she said. "They so impressed James Rouse, who was building Mondawmin at the time, that from then on wherever he opened a mall he always gave my father the opportunity to put in a shop. They always did business with a handshake.

"Mr. Rouse always called my father, 'My little newsboy.' "

From the 1960s to the 1980s, when Mr. Kain sold most of the stores to Hallmark, he was the second largest retailer of Hallmark Cards in the United States. In 1992, he sold several stores to the Factory Card Outlet in Chicago.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., of Hungarian immigrant parents, Mr. Kain moved to Baltimore in 1935, when his father came to work in the garment district here sewing neckties.

A 1941 graduate of City College, Mr. Kain served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. After being discharged, he continued his education, earning a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Baltimore in 1949. He worked as a Baltimore City building inspector and as a salesman before starting the card business.

In 1953, he married Henrietta Lyon of Huntington, Pa., who died early this year.

"He was an entrepreneur and was always hustling," his daughter said of her father. "On Sunday mornings, we would visit all the stores and then he enjoyed coming home and having a big family pancake breakfast."

Mr. Kain was a member of B'nai B'rith, Abraham Schreter Lodge No. 2514 and the Hebrew Free Loan Society, which makes interest-free loans to Jewish immigrants. He contributed to many Jewish causes, including the Zionist Organization of America, Associated Jewish Charities, Israel Bonds, Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Liberty Jewish Center and the Winands Road Synagogue Center in Randallstown.

He enjoyed fishing for blues near Tilghman Island with his brother-in-law, Victor Flashman, his daughter said. He spent winters at Boca Raton, Fla., and golfed at the Wycliff Country Club, where he was a member.

He traveled to Europe and Israel, and took his family to visit Riche, Hungary, where his mother and father had grown up.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 6010 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore.

Survivors include another daughter, Jan Babus of Baltimore; a brother, Joseph Kain of Silver Spring; a sister, Dorothy Tand of Hallendale, Fla.; and three grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the Leukemia Society of Maryland, 200 E. Joppa Road, Towson 21204.

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