By Todd Travis
Coming from an entrepreneurial family, Teresa Dillard has continued the tradition and created a wake of success behind her as she has navigated her own business growth. Born in Indianapolis, the youngest of five children and the only girl, she moved to Greenwood in 1982. At that point, she owned a Shell station. Along the way, she opened Guitar Works before selling that to her former manager at the store. This is when she bought the Hallmark store that she runs today, Teresa’s Hallmark.
“Our landlord at the time owned the Hallmark store, and that’s how we got connected with the Hallmark business. That was in 1989. From there I started to make some changes in the store and doing some advertising and the store started growing. By 1994, we expanded and doubled the size of the store. Then in 2000, I purchased the building we are currently in, and we moved it over here,” Dillard explained.
In 2011, Dillard’s daughter graduated college and was looking for work in a difficult market. She never really had any interest in retail but decided to give it a try for a period of time. After working the floor one Christmas season she decided she actually enjoyed the work and became much more interested in it.
“The following January, Vera Bradley approached us, and we opened a boutique in the space I had available next to the Hallmark store. Then in 2016, the space across the parking lot became available and I was able to purchase it and move the boutique across the parking lot and that’s how we ended up holding the whole center,” Dillard said.
Today, Dillard and her daughter Sara are partners in Brianne’s Boutique, and Sara manages it.
One of Dillard’s employees of 25 years, Lynn, serves at The Refuge food pantry. As a special gesture for Lynn, the store ran a food drive called “Better Together,” which tied in with a product they have at the store with magnetic items that fit the theme such as peanut butter and jelly or tacos and salsa.
“We based the whole Better Together thing on how we’re better together with Lynn being a part of our store. So we put it all together and collected peanut butter and jelly for the refuge food pantry in her honor since that’s where she serves. We collected 291 lbs. of peanut butter and jelly. Everyone who donated got an entry blank into the drawing for a $250 shopping spree,” Dillard mentioned.
Dillard has now been running Teresa’s Hallmark for more than 32 years.
“What I love about the Southside is that I’ve always found the people of Greenwood are warm and kind. They tend to be more down-to-earth and kind than you might find in a lot of other areas, I think. I’ve always appreciated how many really wonderful customers we’ve had,” Dillard concluded.
What do you consider your greatest virtue? Honesty. Everything good in a person comes after that.
What do you most deplore in others? I dislike people who think they deserve something they haven’t earned or aren’t entitled to.
What do you like most about living in Johnson County? I moved out of Johnson County 12 years ago, but I probably spend more time in here than at home. I love the people in this area. Most are kind and down-to-earth.
If you had to live elsewhere than in Johnson County, where would it be? Foxcliff in Morgan County. Driving home every day makes me feel like I am driving into the foothills of Tennessee. It’s a beautiful place to live.
If you could begin life over, what would you change? I would have invented the lint roller! It’s the perfect product. People use it have to buy it over and over. Actually, I think understanding and embracing Christianity as a teenager would have totally changed my life experience. But that being said, I wouldn’t want the people who are in my life because of the path I walked to be any different.
If money were no issue, how would you spend it? A massage every day sounds nice!
What makes you happiest? Being outdoors on a beautiful day.
What is your favorite vacation spot? There is no one place. We took a nice vacation last fall that had a great combination of all good vacation activities. We spent time lounging at the pool and riding bikes in Hilton Head, then stopped in Gatlinburg on the way home to hike in the Smokeys.
What do you do with idle time? Hang out with my husband
What is it that makes you angry? Mean people. It also really bothers me that I don’t feel comfortable going to the places I have gone for years, especially after dark.
What do you do to escape from reality? Listen to Audible books. I have listened to over 400 titles.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, daughter and son-in-law. They all come in just ahead of my sweet kitty Sophie.
Which living person in Johnson County do you most admire? My manicurist, Monica Hayden. I could do my own nails, but I enjoy spending time with her. She has a way of making you feel loved. I’m trying to emulate that.
What is the quality you most like in a person? I am drawn to people who are light-hearted and have a good sense of humor.
What is your greatest extravagance? Vacations. I love to leave town to unplug. We also bought a camper last year for quick getaways.
What are your fears, phobias? Limitations of old age. Realizing that the day will come when I won’t be able to do the physical things I love to do.
What has been the happiest time of your life? Having a business that surrounds me with people I care about every day and getting to work with my daughter and see her every day.
Which talent would you most like to possess? I would love to be a really good painter. I just can’t seem to find the time to really pursue it.
What do you most value in your friends? Connections of the heart. Being able to trust my vulnerabilities with them.
What is your greatest regret? Wasting money. I sometimes think if I only had all the money from the produce I’ve thrown away!
What tenet do you live by? Treat everyone fairly. All people have value.