MOUNTAIN BROOK – In 1999, when Wesley Lassen heard that the owner of The Cook Store was going to close the kitchen specialty shop had been open since 1975, Lassen asked if she could purchase the business on Cahaba Road in Mountain Brook Village. “She sold it to me. And here we are 20 years later,” Lassen said.
Today, The Cook Store was honored as the Silver Alabama Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category during the Alabama Retail Day awards luncheon. An Alabama Retail Association member since 2009, The Cook Store was one of 14 retail businesses honored as Retailers of the Year. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 nominees.
The kitchen specialty shop sells gadgets, pots and pans, knives, functional pottery, glasses, barware and other items for a well-appointed kitchen, but nothing that requires electricity. “Retail is first and foremost about people,” Lassen said. “Treating people the way you want to be treated and recognizing that the customer is the most important aspect of your business day is a must.”
Brides are an important niche for the store, and they receive personal attention with selections added to an old-fashioned registry. “As the majority of our bridal sales are for local weddings, we are happy to deliver directly to each bride’s front door,” Lassen said.
“Wesley Lassen’s The Cook Store has been the go-to kitchen store in the Mountain Brook community for years,” said Suzan Doidge, executive director of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, who nominated The Cook Store for the award. “Wesley and her entire team boast the biggest smiles, friendliest personalities and most down-to-earth spirits of anywhere around town.”
“When you think The Cook Store, you think Mountain Brook Village,” agreed Vince Schilleci, president of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce. “It is a reason people come to The Village to shop.”
As one of the 2019 Retailer of the Year judges noted, “It is a great store. It is top-notch.” The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities.
Lassen expressed appreciation for her team: “The Cook Store is built around a great team of employees. We have a faithful group; everyone works as if the store were their own.”
“Wesley Lassen is a retailer of the year EVERY year to The Cook Store customers, her nine employees and the Mountain Brook and greater Birmingham communities,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
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 4,200 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.