DOTHAN / BIRMINGHAM – Oct. 18, 2016 – Mark and Susan Anderson, chief executive and chief financial officers of Eagle Eye Outfitters in Dothan, have earned the Bronze Alabama Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. The specialty outdoor clothing and accessories retailer was one of 13 retail businesses honored today as Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 nominees.
The Andersons opened Eagle Eye Outfitters in 1999 with 2,500 square feet of retail space. Seventeen years later, the business is now one of the top independently owned outdoor retailers in the nation. Currently, the store occupies 45,000 square feet of retail, storage and office space in what was once home to the Northside Cinema One. The 18-month renovation project, completed in 2014, allowed Eagle Eye to more than double their selling space, but also turned a community eyesore into a beautiful, thriving retail location. The Retailer of the Year judges praised the Andersons for “renovating an empty building, which greatly improved the retail corridor in the area.”
Dean Mitchell, executive director of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, which nominated the Andersons and Eagle Eye for the award, echoed the judges, saying, “They took a place that was run down and put a spotlight on it. They are the true example of having a dream and turning it into a reality.”
The Retailer of the Year judges also gave high marks to the Andersons’ extraordinary service-minded business philosophy. “We’re about people more than profits,” said Mark. “It’s important for us to have our employees serving in the community together. It shows we care, but does an amazing job of creating great relationships among our staff members.”
Eagle Eye Outfitters has a Volunteer Paid Time-Off Program, which provides their employees 40 paid hours off annually for community service projects of their choice. The company recently hired a full-time staff member to coordinate these volunteer opportunities. The idea sprang from Wired Ministries, an organization for which Mark serves as executive director. One week every year, the ministry organizes community volunteer efforts of area churches in an event called Wired Week.
“After seeing the dynamic of community members getting together to serve and the value it gave our community, it changed me instantly,” explained Mark. “I thought, if churches can do that, why can’t our business?” In 2015 alone, Eagle Eye donated more than 2,000 hours of community service through its employee volunteer program.
The community-minded couple deflects their success to others. “Just to be nominated was an honor, and the most special part of all of this – our local chamber nominated us,” said Susan. “We are where we are today because of their support.”
The chamber’s executive director gives the credit back. “Mark and Susan are shining stars in our community,” Mitchell said. “They have vision, passion and commitment, not only for their business, but for the entire community.” The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities.
“Mark and Susan Anderson are retailers of the year EVERY year to the Eagle Eye Outfitters customers, their 62 employees and the Dothan and Wiregrass 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 4,100 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.