By Courtney Clark
The news broke on the morning of Jan. 11: After almost 30 years in business, the beloved Trudy’s Hallmark store in Deerwood Village will be closing in February.
Owners Bill and Trudy Hehn became Hallmark store owners somewhat by happenstance. After Bill Hehn retired from the U.S. Navy following 21 years of service, they knew they wanted to work together somehow.
After moving to Jacksonville from South Florida in 1985, they spotted an ad: a Hallmark store was for sale in Neptune Beach. They took over the shop and over the years opened stores for their children and gift shops in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield building. Trudy’s Hallmark at Southside and Baymeadows is the last remaining Hehn-owned Hallmark store.
Why, after all this time, is Trudy’s closing? Quite simply, Bill Hehn is ready to retire – again. Trudy Hehn explained that the store’s lease was not renewed and the couple decided this would be a good time to retire and enjoy the rest of their lives with each other.
The closing is bittersweet after many successful years. Trudy Hehn was awarded with a Women in Business award, Franchisee of the Year, in 2006. It was at this point that she realized what a staple in the community Trudy’s Hallmark had become.
When asked how she became successful, Trudy Hehn quoted Mother Teresa when she was asked how to promote world peace: “Go home and love your family.” This is the motto by which the Hehns live and work.
Trudy’s Hallmark is known for far more than simple business. Members of the community visit Trudy’s for what Trudy Hehn calls a “Hallmark Hug” or just to say “hi.”
The Hehns’ intentions have always stemmed from love. They consider their shop more of a ministry than a business. For example, when a customer purchases a sympathy card, the employees always take time to express their condolences with open arms. Customers find more than just greetings; they find new friendships.
This is what Trudy Hehn says she will miss the most – the depths of relationships with customers, employees and friends. She says she will miss talking to visitors one-on-one and sharing her ministry.
One of Trudy Hehn’s best memories is when Beanie Babies were at their peak. Customers used to sleep outside the store waiting for Trudy’s Hallmark to open. In true Hehn spirit, the proceeds from the sales were donated to a marriage crisis program, Retrouvaille. Although the Hehns will be retiring, their service with Retrouvaille, which has saved hundreds of marriages, will continue.
Trudy’s Hallmark is scheduled to close on Feb. 25. In the meantime, the Hehns encourage visitors to stop by one last time to take advantage of their low sale prices, with some discounts as high as 70 percent.
And if there’s one thing Trudy Hehn wants to say to the community she has helped for almost three decades, it’s this: “It has been a blessing and a pleasure to be a part of your community. We will miss everyone and their special qualities.”
Photos courtesy Trudy Hehn.
Trudy’s Hallmark owners Trudy and Bill Hehn with store manager Penny Stuart.