BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 48 Alabama cities and 12 other states as Retailers of the Year. The 13 winning Retailers of the Year came from a pool of almost 70 nominees. The presentations were made at the Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham during the 2014 Retail Day Luncheon. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley presented the keynote address and signed a statewide proclamation declaring Sept. 23 as Alabama Retail Day. This marked the 15th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Dink and Suzanne Taylor, owners of the Fleet Feet Sports in Huntsville, a running specialty shoe retailer, earned the Bronze Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. Ken Smith, director of research and information services for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, nominated the couple for the award. Other Retailers of the Year in the same sales category were: Joe Richburg of J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop and Carole Griffin with Continental Bakery, Chez Lulu and Continental Bakery Downtown.
“We are the hub for Huntsville’s running community,” the Taylors said in their Retailer of the Year entry. The 10-year-old business serves as the headquarters for many racing events. The store sponsors more than 100 races locally and sometimes sponsors up to four racing events in a week. It hosts Summer Runs every Thursday night during the summer. In addition, the Taylors serve as race directors for the Rocket City Marathon, The Cotton Row Runs, Mountain Mist Trail Run, The Bridge Street Half Marathon and Running of the Bulls 5K.
“With increasing competition from online/Internet sales and big box competition, we have to be creative with our marketing efforts to draw customers to Fleet Feet Sports,” the Taylors said. “Every day, we try to lead people to improve their life styles by exercising more.” Part of that effort is offering training for 5K to marathon distance as well as triathlon programs. In 2013 alone, the store had 14 training programs with more than 750 participants. The store publishes a weekly newsletter with a distribution of 20,000.
The store focuses on its customers. To help customers buy the perfect shoe, Fleet Feet Huntsville measures the foot in a weighted and unweighted position, then videotapes the customer on the treadmill running or walking to help them find the best shoe for their intended activity. The store this year added 2,100 square feet to its existing space to better serve its customers and all of the programming and services offered.
The Taylors also make sure their employees reach their full potential. The Retailer of the Year judges made special note that over the past several years, the Taylors have sent several employees to Fleet Feet Sports Inc. to learn how to open their own stores.
Their community involvement goes beyond sponsoring runs. Fleet Feet Huntsville has raised $10,000 for Sandy Hook Fund and $3,000 for the Boston FundOne. It serves as a collection spot for various local organizations for recycling shoes and regularly donate shoes to under privileged children in the Gadsden area through Twelfth Street Baptist Church.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Dink and Suzanne Taylor are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, their 30 employees and the Huntsville community.”
Media Contact: Suzanne Taylor | Fleet Feet Sports in Huntsville | 256.650.7063
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423