HOMEWOOD and HUNTSVILLE – In 2007, Sherry Hartley and Beth Staula began selling Alabama-crafted items as corporate gifts via an online store. The business partners have since added two brick-and-mortar stores with a third slated to open next year. A separate operation center fulfills gift orders for their ever-growing online presence and corporate sales.
“We are proud to carry products made in Alabama and are pleased that by selling these products, Alabama Goods has a positive impact on our state,” said Hartley and Staula, who have been named Alabama’s Gold Retailers of the Year in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. Alabama Goods is one of 11 businesses honored as the 2021 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association. The Homewood-based business has been a member of the association since 2013.
“We share this honor with others who had a major part in us being selected – our incredible staff who give our customers a top-notch experience, our Alabama vendors who create the amazing products we sell; and our customers who appreciate unique products and believe in buying local,” the partners of the certified women owned business said in accepting their award. Alabama Goods sells pottery, jewelry, bath and body products, towels, leather goods, glassware, T-shirts, hats, books, gourmet food and more, both individually and in gift baskets.
Besides its “strong mission for supporting our state and its artisans,” the Retailer of the Year judges lauded Alabama Goods for increasing revenue during a pandemic, opening its Huntsville store in July 2020, upgrading its point-of-sale system and revamping its website. The partners, who opened their Homewood store in March 2011, plan to open a new store in Hoover, possibly by the summer of 2022.
In a letter of support for the business, Lora McGowan, an Owens Cross Roads artist, who is one of Alabama Goods’ vendors and a part-time employee in the Huntsville store, said, “Alabama Goods takes emerging artists out of the ‘starving artist category’ to the ‘here I am, support me category.’ ”
Meredith Drennen, executive director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce, who nominated Hartley and Staula, said, “the team at Alabama Goods not only showcase the makers in our state but gives back to the community significantly.” Hartley takes a lead role in the chamber’s Downtown Business Group, “planning events and cultivating ideas to make Homewood a great place to shop, eat and live,” Drennen added.
Alabama Goods excelled at giving back and supporting community early on during the global pandemic. “Before face masks were readily available, we asked our textile vendors to sew masks. That gave us and our vendors a major boost in revenue,” the partners said in their Retailer of the Year entry. “We worked with a candle maker, as well as a distillery, to create and sell hand sanitizer during a period when sanitizer was challenging to find,” they added.
The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners were selected from 49 entries submitted from a pool of 80 nominees.
“Sherry Hartley and Beth Staula are retailers of the year EVERY year to Alabama Goods’ customers, their 21 employees and the Homewood and Huntsville communities,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
Photo by Brandon Robbins
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,300 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.