BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, today recognized 18 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 29 Alabama cities and 16 states as Retailers of the Year. The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2012 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 13th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Adam Hazel and the Rev. Tony Cooper, director and executive director of the Mission Possible Bargain Centers, the retail arm of the nonprofit Jimmie Hale Mission, earned the Bronze Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. Hazel and Cooper bring a ministry mindset to the seven retail centers in Jefferson, Cullman and Walker counties that sell new furniture as well as gently used, donated merchandise ranging from clothes and shoes to furniture and appliances. Mission Possible Bargain Centers began 12 years ago and employ 108. Victor Brown, vice president of minority business and small business development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, nominated Hazel and Cooper for the award.
The centers “benefit an underserved population that generally does not have retail readily available, but desperately needs access to quality clothing and household merchandise,” Brown said in his nomination.
The Retailer of the Year judges noted that “community service is the business goal” of the centers that operate under the motto, “Get a Bargain & Give a Blessing.” The profit from sales at the Mission Possible Bargain Centers supports the ministries of the Jimmie Hale Mission, which include shelters, a 12-step recovery program and a remedial education center.
The judges also were impressed that in a year’s time, Mission Possible Bargain Centers more than doubled its number of stores and its truck fleet. Increasing the number of stores from three to seven between May 2011 and April 2012 brought local and statewide attention to the operation. Judy Bates, the “Bargainomics Lady,” who appears on the Birmingham Fox affiliate, and Christie Dedman, the “Birmingham Bargain Mom,” whose blogs appear in the Birmingham News, have both featured the centers on several occasions.
The expansion also brought improved technology to the stores, including new point-of-sale and barcode systems and upgraded computer and credit-card processing systems.
Mission Possible Bargain Centers’ staff members serve their communities, but some were the recipients rather than the givers of that service after tornadoes ripped across Alabama in April 2011. The centers replaced household items, clothing and furniture for employees and their families who lost some or all of their personal possessions in the tornadoes. The Hanceville center took a direct hit from one of the tornadoes and had to close for more than a month for repairs. In the first three days after reopening, it made more than $10,000 in sales, clearly demonstrating the centers’ necessity to the community.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Adam Hazel and Tony Cooper are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, employees and the Birmingham, Adamsville, Hanceville, Homewood, Pinson and Jasper communities.”
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The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Our 4,000 independent merchant and national company members sell food, clothing, furniture and other general merchandise at more than 6,000 locations throughout Alabama. ARA promotes what is best for the retailing industry in Alabama and has been doing so since 1943. From legislation to education, through communication and member services, ARA members benefit from the value of membership in their association. Retail works!
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