Sharon Terlep:

The broader shift to online shopping and younger consumers’ disinterest in greeting cards has made the business unsustainable, said Alan Horvitz, owner of a Hallmark store in Orleans, Mass., that is closing after 30 years. 

“They’ll send a text, ‘Sorry for your loss,’ and that’s how things get done,” Mr. Horvitz said. “You can’t sell a horse and buggy when cars are moving off the line.”

Instead, people are celebrating friends and family for free, over social media and through text messages. Facebook Inc. reminds its users when their friends are celebrating a birthday and many younger Americans celebrate anniversaries or other special events with Instagram posts.

“People younger than 30, we find, are not even engaging with digital greeting cards,” said James Hirschfeld, co-founder of e-card startup Paperless Post.

Mr. Hirschfield said his company, which now offers printed as well as digital cards, opted against investing heavily in the business of one-to-one greeting cards, instead focusing on online invitations and bulk holiday cards. “We didn’t think it was a growing category where we’d have an opportunity to innovate and grow more users,” he said.

Hallmark is combining its card operations with its retail business, which includes roughly 2,000 mostly independently owned U.S. stores. It aims to free up resources to bulk up its own online offerings and create new bricks-and-mortar business to offset the decline in traditional Hallmark stores, said Hallmark spokeswoman Molly Biwer.