GADSDEN / BIRMINGHAM – What started in 2013 as a single push cart on the streets of downtown Gadsden by year’s end will grow to 30 retail stores across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas as well as product placement in 24 states. The rapid growth of the business is, in part, what earned Frios Gourmet Pops the title of Alabama’s Emerging Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales More Than $1 Million Category. The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, honored Frios Gourmet Pops 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.
Frios’ Founder and Managing Member Andy Harp, whose education background is in chemistry and public relations, spent 19 years in the information technology industry before opening the gourmet pop business. “I literally woke up one day and decided to chase my true passion, which is food. We have been able to take the concept of gourmet pops and make it into a product and brand that has quickly grown. We are very proud to have started in downtown Gadsden and to have been a part of the revitalization efforts in downtowns across Alabama,” said Harp.
The Retailer of the Year Judges praised Frios for “going into downtown areas that need [or are in the midst of] revitalization.” They also gave high marks to the business’ innovative use of technology in its marketing efforts.
Heather New, the President of the Gadsden/Etowah Chamber of Commerce, nominated Andy Harp and Frios for the award. In her nomination letter, New wrote, “Frios Gourmet Pops have shown tremendous growth since Andy first wheeled a frozen pop cart out on to Broad Street of historic downtown Gadsden. They’ve recently moved into a new manufacturing facility in town to accommodate the mass production of their pops.”
In addition to the downtown Gadsden location, Frios has 15 other Alabama stores – in Alabaster, Birmingham, Boaz, Daphne, Fairhope, Florence, Gadsden, Gulf Shores, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Prattville, Rainbow City, Trussville and Wetumpka.
“We are so proud to have been recognized and to see how our brand has been embraced. It’s almost like watching your baby grow up,” said Harp. “But what is even more fun is to watch how our distributors in each one of these cities become a part of their communities and downtown revitalization efforts.”
Frios 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.
“Andy Harp is a retailer of the year every year to the Frios customers, its 25 employees and the 16 Alabama communities 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.