VALLEY GRANDE / THOMASTON / BIRMINGHAM – David Oliver started in the grocery business 52 years ago. “I started real young, bagging groceries and mopping floors,” he said. He worked at a half dozen grocery stores, each larger than the one previous, before buying his first store. “Now, I own two big grocery stores,” said the owner of Dave’s Market in Valley Grande and Thomaston.
Oliver said working your way up “helps you manage better.” The Retailer of the Year judges agreed, citing his ascent in the grocery business as one of his strongest qualities.
Increased sales growth and opening a store in an underserved community earned Oliver and Dave’s Market the title of Alabama’s 2017 Bronze Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. The Alabama Retail Association honored OIiver today at the Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham, which is held in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business.
Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, said Dave’s Market is the largest contributing retailer to the Valley Grande community. “The contribution that he’s made to the community has been great throughout the years.”
Smedley, who nominated Oliver for the award, also praised him for opening a store in a nearby food desert.
In February 2016, Oliver opened his second store in a remodeled high school gym in Thomaston, a town of 400 people with about 4,800 living in the area. “Now, we not only can buy fresh meats, produce and other groceries at great prices; we can purchase over-the-counter drugs and many other items we need, without having to travel out of town,” one customer wrote in gratitude for the Thomaston store.
“Ours are local stores so customers don’t have to drive a long way to get groceries,” said Oliver. “And we want shopping here to be an enjoyable experience.”
Dave’s Market was one of 14 Retailers of the Year honored at today’s luncheon. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 90 nominees. The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards program, started in 1999, honors outstanding retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities.
“David Oliver is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the Dave’s Market customers, his 58 employees as well as the Valley Grande, Thomaston and Dallas County 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.