MONTGOMERY / BIRMINGHAM – Oct. 18, 2016 – “We’re about so much more than selling shoes, or getting people to be more active. We get up every day thinking about how we can use our time and our business to make this community a better place,” said Avery Ainsworth, owner of Fleet Feet Sports Montgomery. Community commitment is, in part, what earned Ainsworth and Fleet Feet the title of Alabama’s Emerging Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, honored Ainsworth today at the 2016 Alabama Retail Day Luncheon in Birmingham. Terrance G. “Terry” Finley, president and chief executive officer of Alabama-based Books-A-Million Inc., made the keynote address.
Fleet Feet Sports is a specialty running and walking store that sells shoes, apparel and accessories. The business is also committed to enhancing and growing the local running and walking communities by providing quality training programs, fun runs for all levels
of runners and walkers, educational opportunities and footwear and apparel to help their customers reach their goals.
The Retailer of the Year judges praised Fleet Feet for its community relations. “They don’t just sell shoes,” said one judge. “They change lives.” Another judge echoed that, saying, “Their community involvement and consistency is unbelievable. It all relates back to the brand of who they are. Obviously, they want you to come in and buy shoes from
them, but their mission is so strong and apparent in the community.”
In addition to running the store, Ainsworth founded Renewed Soles, a project that collects and provides properly fitting footwear to those in need in the River Region. He also was the catalyst for bringing Girls on the Run to Montgomery. The program inspires young girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.
Ainsworth received multiple letters of recommendation from community members, including one from Michael Coleman, the executive director of Hope Inspired Ministries in Montgomery. Coleman wrote, “(Avery) has quickly established himself as a leader in our community through selfless service to others and a commitment to bless the city of Montgomery.” For the past three years, the store has hosted “Treadmills for Charity,” organizing 24 hours of nonstop running
to raise money for the local nonprofit that trains unemployed men and women to obtain and maintain a job.
Fleet Feet, an Alabama Retail member since 2013, was one of 13 retail businesses honored at today’s luncheon. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 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.
“Avery Ainsworth is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the Fleet Feet customers, its four employees and the community it serves,” 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.