The Heart and Soul of Ann’s Hallmark
In the heart of Great Bridge lies a store that has, over the years, become more than just a place to buy unique and memorable gifts. As everyone in Great Bridge knows, Ann’s Hallmark Store is a testament to community enrichment. And at the center of it all, lighting up the store with her ever-present energy and dedication is Donna O’Sullivan.
“It’s just amazing how important Donna is to our business and to our family,” says Terrie Walsh, owner of Ann’s Hallmark.
When the doors of Ann’s Hallmark first opened in 1979—under the watchful eyes of Terrie’s mom—few could have imagined what the store would come to mean to shoppers in Chesapeake and throughout Hampton Roads.
But a crucial turning point came in 1998 with the arrival of Donna O’Sullivan. Brought on board as a sales associate just as Terrie’s mom was handing over ownership of the business to Terrie and her sister, Donna’s innate flair for retail soon set her apart as a talented merchandiser.
“We all immediately realized that Donna had special skills and knowledge and a natural business sense,” Terrie insists, “and just an innate talent for retail.”
And as the winds of change swept through the store under Terrie’s new leadership—bringing lively costumed events, festive atmospheres, and fresh innovations—Donna seamlessly blended her passion and skills with these new directions. From dressing up as beloved cartoon characters to donning festive attire for the holiday season, Donna’s energy and exuberant spirit became infectious.
Donna doesn’t merely ‘manage’ the store,
she nurtures it…
She’s been a mentor
and made such a huge difference
in the lives of so many of our team members
over the last 25 years.”
“When my sister and I took over and began instituting new changes, Donna thought we were crazy at first,” Terrie recalls with a laugh. “But then she went all in, totally committed to our endeavors, playing along and fully embracing the lively new atmosphere we were trying to create. But then again, Donna always makes work a whole lot of fun.”
The store’s trajectory ascended, and much of it was directly attributed to Donna’s natural aptitude for business. Under the guidance of the then-manager, Mary Saunders, Donna’s journey saw her rise swiftly to the role of assistant manager. It wasn’t just her acumen but also her deep connection with customers that made her an irreplaceable asset. Then, in 2009, as Mary bid adieu to her role, Donna seamlessly stepped into her shoes, serving as the store’s general manager ever since.
“But I should say right off the bat that Donna doesn’t merely ‘manage’ the store,” Terrie says with genuine adoration, “she nurtures it.”
To Donna, Ann’s Hallmark is more than just a place of work. It is a legacy, a beacon of community spirit, and a home away from home. And Donna’s genuine interest in her staff makes her more than just a boss. Her door is always open, providing guidance, mentorship, and even pet names that became terms of endearment.
“Donna is a real people person,” Terrie insists. “She knows how to manage people. She’s always been like a mother hen to our girls on staff, and her interest and concern for them always goes above and beyond simply being their boss. If they have a problem in their personal life or need assistance in any way, Donna is there for them as a friend and counselor, helping them find the answers and solutions. She’s been a mentor and made such a huge difference in the lives of so many of our team members over the last 25 years.”
Terrie often remarks about Donna’s unparalleled intelligence and the many career paths she might have pursued. Yet, Ann’s Hallmark has been blessed to have her dedicated spirit. Whether attending gift shows, making critical purchase decisions, or even troubleshooting technical issues (sometimes even pulling all-nighters to ensure the store’s systems run seamlessly), Donna does it all with unmatched fervor.
But behind the professional prowess lies a woman deeply rooted in family values. Donna’s husband, Kevin, their two sons, Mason and Matthew, and her delightful granddaughter, Hannah, are her world. Simultaneously, she extends that warmth and care to her extended Ann’s Hallmark family, from colleagues to customers who have, over the decades, watched their children grow and become patrons themselves.
In the words of Terrie herself, Donna is indeed the “face of the business.” Her everyday presence has been the cornerstone of Ann’s Hallmark, making it a store not just of gifts and mementos but of cherished memories and relationships. For 25 years, Donna O’Sullivan has not just worked at Ann’s Hallmark; she’s lived it, loved it, and transformed it into an institution that the community of Great Bridge holds dear. She truly is the heart and soul of the store, and her legacy will forever be imprinted upon its walls and the hearts of its staff and patrons.
Ann’s Hallmark Shop
237 S Battlefield Blvd, Chesapeake, VA 23322
1443 N. Main Street