OPP – Joe and Kelli Richburg know that if you want people to shop with your business, you must offer them service that they can’t get anywhere else.
“Taking care of customers is what sets us apart,” Joe Richburg said in a video submitted with J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop’s 2022 Retailer of the Year entry. The mission statement for the 36-year-old Opp business that sells and services lawnmowers, lawn equipment, all-terrain vehicles and golf carts is “sales, service and satisfaction.” Over the years, the Richburgs’ customer base has spread beyond Opp to southeast Alabama and even to the U.S. Southeast for some products.
Joe and Kelli Richburg, owners of J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop, are the Silver Alabama Retailers of the Year in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop also earned the Silver level award in 2014 in a lesser sales category.
In 1986, when Joe Richburg and his father began the business in a single roll-up garage in the backyard of the family home, the purpose was strictly lawnmower repair. “Our business has evolved and expanded over the years and now proudly offers a wide array of lawn and outdoor merchandise/equipment from multiple name-brand companies. Our business is stocked with the parts necessary to repair and maintain the products we sell,” the Richburgs said in their Retailer of the Year entry.
The Retailer of the Year judges commended the business for “starting with lawnmowers, then adapting and staying current by stocking products that are relevant.” Since 2000, the shop has sold, rented and serviced golf carts, which stretched their customer base to an entire region of the country.
J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop occupies five structures and a fenced lot on 10-plus acres in Opp, including the main showroom/repair shop/covered area for lawn mowers, an office building, three warehouses and the fenced lot for its golf cart inventory.
Kelly Brandin, executive administrator of the Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce, who nominated the business for the award, said, “J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop – through its local, out-of-county and internet sales – has had and continues to have a major economic impact on our city and county.”
Opp native L. Joel Smith, who wrote a letter of recommendation for J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop, describes Joe Richburg as “a faithful pillar of his community. To Joe, his business is not just a career – it’s a passion – a passion for his employees, customers and community.”
The Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce recognized J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop as its inaugural Business of the Year in 2012. In 2010 and 2018, the chamber honored Joe Richburg with its Spirit of Opportunity Award. Also in 2018, the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities in Covington County named J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop as the Small Business Employer of the Year for working with special needs students in the Job Exploration Training, or JET, program.
J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop is one of 11 businesses honored as the 2022 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association.
The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners were selected from 42 entries submitted from a pool of 55 nominees.
“Joe and Kelli Richburg are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, their 25 employees, the greater Opp community and their region,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown. J.R’s Lawnmower Shop has been an Alabama Retail Association member since 2001.
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 4,300 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.