BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association (ARA) in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business today recognized 12 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 10 retail businesses as “Retailers of the Year.” The presentations were made at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center in Birmingham during the 2010 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 11th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Ann Murray, office manager and buyer for Carter Drug Co. and Carters Books & Gifts, a newly remodeled 86-year-old pharmacy and in-store boutique gift store in historic downtown Selma, won the Bronze Award in the “Annual Sales More Than $5 Million” category. The business, owned by pharmacists Joseph Moore, Timothy Williamson and Kent Hale, employs 25. Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, nominated Murray for this prestigious award. This is the first time a Selma business has been named a Retailer of the Year.
“During these complicated times … Carter’s, situated on one of Alabama’s most historic downtown main streets … reinvested in downtown Selma with its $400,000 store remodeling project,” Smedley wrote in her nomination of Carter Drug Co. Indeed, Murray noted, “the owners were faced with a tough decision – play it safe and get through the year or risk substantial financial loss, turn the store upside down, invest in the community’s future and remodel.”
Sales were slightly up in early 2009, when renovation began , Murray wrote on her entry form. The risk the owners opted to take paid off with even greater results. The gift store’s sales have increased more than 40 percent, becoming “the store’s second most profitable department, eclipsing all but prescriptions for the first time,” Murray continued.
Besides updating the store’s look, the remodel also brought an upgrade in technology. “We installed a new point of sale computer system, servers and automated telephone system, plus a new pharmacy management system,” Murray said. Camera and audio equipment also was installed to enhance the store’s safety. The store also dove into social technology, even offering “a word of the day for consumers who like to ‘tweet,’” said Smedley.
In late 2009, Carters Books & Gifts established a Facebook presence to sustain segment growth. The gift portion of the store also is developing its own website to further distinguish it from the traditional drug store, much like the line of black tile does in the store’s physical presence.
The store also promotes its industry to the next generation, employing interns from Samford University’s McWhorter Pharmacy School. “The exposure they receive in an independent retail pharmacy in a small town setting is invaluable,” Murray said. “Many pharmacy students are not aware of the tremendous influence a pharmacy has in the lives of the people of a small town.”
“Carter Drug Co. is the hub of downtown Selma’s retail community,” said Murray. “We strive to set a high standard and are commonly called upon by the media to comment on pertinent retail and economic issues.”
The renovation “saved a beautiful Selma landmark and an anchor in our historic but struggling downtown.” Murray added. “Carter’s (open 365 days a year) is truly committed to all citizens in Dallas County,” Smedley wrote in summing up the Retailer of the Year nomination.
Carl Bowline, Madden & Associates | 334.315.5169
Nancy Dennis, Alabama Retail Association | 334.263.5757 Ext. 101 | 800.239.5423