HOMEWOOD – Babbie Styslinger, owner of At Home Furnishings, a furniture, home décor, clothing and accessory retailer in Homewood, is Alabama’s Bronze Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. At Home Furnishings is one of 11 businesses being honored as the 2022 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association.
“The success of our store is largely dependent upon our awareness of what sells and what doesn’t, so we make it a point to expand and contract different areas and departments with the tide of sales,” said Styslinger. “We were able to grow our fashion business, At Home Fashion, and add to its staff in 2020 and 2021.” Apparel now accounts for 10% of At Home’s business.
The Alabama Retailer of the Year judges noted that Styslinger and her staff used ecommerce and social media during the height of the pandemic to stay relevant and keep serving its customers.
“We are a locally owned, independent business. Our staff are ready to communicate with customers however they choose – call, text, email, messaging, in-person – whatever fits our customers’ needs best is what we will do!,” said Styslinger, who the Retailer of the Year judges described as “smart and a real entrepreneur.”
Meredith Drennen, executive director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce, refers to At Home Furnishings as a “mainstay of Homewood Main Street.”
Styslinger founded At Home Furnishings 30 years ago on 18th Street South in Homewood, because she said there were no locally owned furniture stores in the area at the time. A year later, she opened Three Sheets Linen Shop across the street to outfit the beds At Home Furnishings sold. Three Sheets was also an Alabama Retailer of the Year entrant.
“At Home Furnishings is a cornerstone of downtown Homewood,” said Ken Porter, a factory representative for Rowe Furniture in Elliston, Va., who calls on 56 storefronts, including Styslinger’s, adding that her store “crushes every measurable number a furniture store could count.”
In his letter of recommendation, Porter also noted At Home’s involvement in the community. At Home, “donates clothes, furniture and other items to the Junior League, Goodwill, Grace House, the YWCA, the King’s Home and donates to silent auctions, like one I helped with for Community on the Rise (a nonproft that employs the homeless),” said Porter. “The store has a big heart, because the owner has a big heart.”
Styslinger said, “It’s our pleasure to contribute to organizations devoted to improving lives, making our communities better and solving problems that our community faces, locally to globally.”
“I just think they do things right,” said one of the Retailer of the Year judges. Another said, “At Home takes care of its employees.” Porter also noted that At Home Furnishings “provides NO COST health insurance to all eligible employees.”
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 42 entries submitted from a pool of 55 nominees.
“Babbie Styslinger is a retailer of the year EVERY year to her customers, her 37 employees and the Homewood community,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown. At Home Furnishings has been a member of the Alabama Retail Association since 2004.
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.