BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association (ARA) in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business today recognized 19 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses as Retailers of the Year. The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2011 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 12th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Sarah Brown and Terry Shea, owners of Wrapsody Inc., a trendy gift shop with stores in Hoover and Auburn, earned the Silver Retailer of the Year award in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million Category. These ladies won the award without even knowing they were nominated. The judges were most impressed with the number of “unique nominations from multiple stakeholders” for these two business owners.
Spearheaded by Merri Logan and Blair DeCoux, manager and assistant manager of the Hoover Wrapsody store, nominations also came in from Lindsey Moore, assistant manager of the Auburn store; Sarah Salzmann, a part-time employee; Melissa Powell, a Hoover sales associate; Melissa Mann, the company’s accountant; and Bill Powell, executive director of the Hoover Chamber of Commerce. Letters supporting the nomination also came from Debbie Breihaupt, a former employee; Kim Harland, a customer; and Katherine Bear Rogers, sales representative for Appelman & Schauben. Brown and Shea only learned of their nomination after the Retailer of the Year judges had selected them as winners. Wrapsody has been an ARA member since 2005 .
When describing Brown, Shea and their business, the most common words used by their many nominators were family, celebration and giving:
- “To me, Wrapsody is family. It is my happy place where I can always find something to celebrate,” Merri Logan said in her nomination.
- “I admire these two women and the company they have built, but most of all, I respect the way they conduct their business. Terry and Sarah treat each and every employee like a member of their own family,” said Melissa Mann.
- “They have definitely been a ‘gift’ to the community and their customers,” said former employee Debbie Breihaupt.
Melissa Powell, a sales associate in the Hoover store and a junior at the University of Alabama, said, “We treat every customer like they are the most important person we are going to help that day. Wrapsody’s No. 1 priority is our customers, and as a frequent shopper myself, I can honestly say I have never been into a store that treats its customers as well as Wrapsody does. I worked at Wrapsody in high school, and they have allowed me to come back and work every holiday and summer since. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”
The owners “took the drop in the economy as a chance to excel and not throw in the towel,” said the stores’ managers in the entry they completed for their bosses. For six weeks, the two stores’ employees enrolled in Wrapsody University, immersing themselves
in all things Wrapsody: history, product lines, customer service, community involvement, etc. They even “graduated” at the completion of the program. The schooling scored with increased sales and happy customers.
“I know that any time I need to purchase that special gift for someone or am looking for something different for myself, … I will walk out of Wrapsody with a unique treasure,” said customer Kim Harland. Much of the stores’ merchandise is local, including original creations by local artists. The stores’ owners also strive to keep other aspects of the business such as advertising, packaging and marketing local or within Alabama. While the gifts the stores sell have a local flavor, Wrapsody also excels at selling national brands. Both are classified as platinum Vera Bradley stores, an elite rating related to both sales and business practices.
Wrapsody’s owners and staff also give back. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, the stores have a balloon release fundraiser; they’ve collected shoes for Haiti; donated customers’ gently loved Vera Bradley bags to First Light in Birmingham, a homeless women’s shelter and raised money for the Big Oak Ranch, a Christian children’s home.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Sarah Brown and Terry Shea are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, employees and the Hoover and Auburn communities.”