GADSDEN – In July 2013, a couple of months after her mother’s liver transplant, Gadsden resident Tena King was shopping in north Georgia with her husband, T.C. Morgan, when she entered a small store that sold olive oil. Curious, she began asking a lot of questions and was thinking of how she could use these products to add flavor to her mother’s restricted diet. She purchased four bottles and from that visit, she said she had “fallen in love with this concept of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That night I looked at my husband and I said, ‘I really like that business.’ And he said, ‘So do I.’ ”
The next week, she and Morgan began making plans for King’s Olive Oil Company, which opened that year in Gadsden as an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room. “We have more than 85 of the freshest olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars,” King said. “We also offer a wide array of healthy products that can be used with olive oils and balsamic vinegars, such as pastas, bread mixes, cake mixes, seasoning packs, bread dips, peanut butters, jams, Vermont maple syrups, olives and olive wood products.”
King is the Silver Alabama Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. King’s Olive Oil Company is one of 11 businesses honored as the 2022 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association.
The reasons for her selection are numerous. King goes the extra mile to make sure customers have a great experience — sometimes through technology, other times through employee development. She has added videos to her website to bring the in-store experience online and sends handwritten notes to online customers. In the store, she has improved tools for credit card processing, transaction speed and inventory tracking, while monitoring sales activity to ensure that she is properly staffed at peak times. King also brought in a customer service/sales consultant to further develop her team and her store. “This endeavor included moving many items around, as well as purchasing new ways to display items. To date this improvement has assisted tremendously in increasing employee efficiency, as well as customer sales,” King said.
“I like that she hired a customer service consultant,” noted one of the Retailer of the Year judges. “That someone invests in customer service is good.”
King also invests in community. “This well-known local business does so much for our community,” noted Christi Robinson, president and chief executive officer of The Chamber of Gadsden/Etowah County, in her nomination of King.
In a letter of recommendation, Kay Moore, director of Downtown Gadsden Inc. wrote, “(Tena’s) organization and communication skills are an integral part of her success, and she has worked diligently to help her fellow retailers as well.”
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.
“Tena King is a retailer of the year EVERY year to her customers, her four employees and the Gadsden community,” 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 4,300 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.