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.
Linda Parker, who with her husband, Scott, owns Bruster’s Real Ice Cream in Vestavia Hills earned the Gold Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million Category. Karen J. Odle, executive director of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, nominated Parker for the award. The Retailer of the Year judges commended Parker for having a well defined and executed business plan, while using outside-the-box thinking. “This is not just your average ice cream shop,” the judges noted.
The store at 1008 Vestavia Parkway has been in business for almost six years and employs 40. It ranks in the top 10 among Bruster’s 240 U.S. franchises in terms of sales. One area the store especially excelled in during the past year is outside catering. While most Bruster’s franchises average slightly more than $1,000 annually in outside sales, Parker’s restaurant did $20,000 in outside catering in 2010, according to her Retailer of the year entry.
She hasn’t just been catering outside her current location. Parker also has signed a lease for an additional shop in a new development in Hoover, which she hopes to open this year.
Parker serves as vice president of membership development for the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce and is the immediate past president of Leadership Vestavia Hills.
“Linda and her general manager, Jessica Eanes, are phenomenal partners in Vestavia Hills, not only with the community, but with the school system as well,” Odle said in her nomination of Parker. The Vestavia Hills’ Bruster’s is a Partner in Education with five different Vestavia Hills City Schools.
“I don’t believe there has ever been an occasion when they were approached about partnering with someone that they didn’t jump on board immediately,” Odle said. “During the recent tornado disaster in the state, they made individual cups of ice cream and took them to the relief workers to give them a bit of ‘sunshine’ in an otherwise stressful situation. It’s actions like this that set them apart from other businesses. They think of others first!”
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Linda Parker is a retailer of the year EVERY year to her customers, employees and the Vestavia Hills community.”