When Cardsmart opened in the new Wilmington Plaza in November 2009, owner Richard Pignone Jr. knew that his business was exactly where it needed to be. In many ways he knew that, before it even started, Wilmington Cardsmart had truly come full circle.
After three years in town, Pignone knows that he made a great decision and looks forward to quite a few more years here in town.
The Cardsmart story is a long one which began a half century ago when Richard “Dick” Pignone Sr. opened his first “Merrilane” store in Stoneham. Little did he know in 1953 that his family would continue to keep his dream alive and growing 50 years later.
Over the years Merrilane brought stores to Stoneham, Billerica and Hanover and, today, Richard Pignone continues that tradition with his Cardsmart stores.
In 1998 Dick Pignone passed away unexpectedly and, after a brief leave of absence from his career in accounting, Richard decided that it was time to take over the family business.
“My father’s death had one silver lining,” said Richard.
Pignone continued on as Merrilane until, in 2005, he realized that, in order to stay in business, he had to learn to expand. That’s when the Merrilane family became a part of the Cardsmart family and a new, local store was born.
When construction began on the new Wilmington Plaza, Pignone knew that it was the perfect location for him to open his newest Cardsmart.
Ironically, it was years before when he first met his wife, Debbie, who was, at the time, the manager of Wilmington’s Harvest Gift Shop. New to the business and looking for a “certain village piece,” Pignone called Debbie at Harvest Gift Shop for assistance and the rest is, as they say, history.
Today, Pignone is the proud owner of Wilmington’s Cardsmart and he and Debbie are the proud parents of three children. Both are thrilled to be a part of the Wilmington community. They look forward to a continued relationship with the community and more involvement with local youth sports.
“As a father of three I get how much work it is,” said Richard.
With a variety of products including a host of “Wilmington” gifts Cardsmart truly does have something for everyone.
It is not, however, the products that always keep customers coming back for more. It is, instead, “all about our relationships with our customers,” explained Pignone. He takes pride in a friendly, polite staff and knows that going the extra mile can often mean keeping a devoted customer for a long time.
Personal service and building relationships are key to Pignone and all of his Cardsmart Crew.
Most important to Pignone, however, is realizing that his family is there with him every step of the way. With his mother, sister, and nieces working in every store he realizes that, even when time are tough, he has his family behind him.
“It’s not always easy to work with family,” he joked. “But we still get it done and we still talk to each other.”