Ridgewood showers store owners of 51 years with thanks, E & J Cards and Gifts shares final goodbye with the neighborhood

Alan and Valarie Wornian, the owners of E & J Cards and Gifts store on 56-22 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood, are looking forward to retirement after closing their store of 51 years.
Photo by Anthony Medina

The final days of E & J Cards and Gifts store on 56-22 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood arrived as quickly as they went for the owners of the 51-year-old establishment.

Alan and Valarie Wornian, the happily married couple and long time owners of the shop, announced their retirement in February along with the store’s closure. The Wornians said their final heartfelt goodbyes to the shop and their customers last week.

“Thank you to all our loyal customers that come here all the time and shop with us,” said Alan. “We know them. We know their families, it’s been really great for us. We have to say goodbye now. It’s time for our next journey.”

During a visit to the store from QNS, one customer gifted the store owners with a specialized wind chime. A letter inside the present thanked the Wornians for their years of service to the community. Valarie held back tears as she unboxed the gift, a gesture that had become all too familiar in the wake of announcing the store’s closure, after receiving countless tokens of appreciation.

Alan and Valarie are looking forward to retirement. The rigors of owning and operating their businesses kept them away from having a steady schedule to follow outside of work. Now, holidays and weekends were poised to become their standard routine.

“It will be nice to eat at a normal hour again,” Valarie told QNS, adding how their busy work schedules forced them to eat at odd hours of the night and that won’t be the case anymore.”

For many residents and fellow business owners familiar to the shop, E & J cards and gifts store meant much more to Ridgewood.

Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, personally shared his thanks to the Wornians for their many years of service to the community.

Valarie served as the acting president of the Myrtle Ave BID where she helped connect with businesses and keep tabs on fellow family-owned shops on Myrtle Avenue.

“Valerie has been a long-standing board member of the Myrtle Avenue BID and has served as its vice president for many, many years,” Renz said. “She could always be counted on for any task that the BID needed. Her valuable insight on any issue facing the bid and or the needs of merchants, property owners, and shoppers.”

The history of E & J Cards and Gifts Store is rooted in Ridgewood. E&J Cards and Gifts store first opened in December 1972 with its founders Edith and Jack, the parents of Alan Wornian. Valarie recalled how she and Alan grew up in the area where they helped Edith and Jack acquire the shop, hence its E & J name.

“We looked forward to her valuable input and that input will be sorely missed,” Renz added. “We wish her and her entire family well in their future endeavors. Again, we thank her for her years of commitment and dedication.”

The Wornians continued operating the store despite facing personal health issues, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and growing financial strains on small businesses. Valarie said she’s unsure what business will take her place since the cost of rent made it difficult to turn a profit, but she’s hopeful it will contribute just as much to the community.