BIRMINGHAM – Oct. 18, 2016 – Marguerite Ray, owner of Marguerite’s Conceits in Mountain Brook, today earned the Silver Alabama Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. The fine bed and bath linens, gift and accessory retailer was one of 13 retail businesses honored as Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business at the Alabama Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham. Terrance G. “Terry” Finley, president and chief executive officer of Alabama-based Books-A-Million Inc., gave the keynote address.
“I am passionate about my work. It is a joy to be there every single day,” said Ray, who opened her business more than 23 years ago. “Although big box stores and discount websites are challenging me every day, I embrace the challenge and look at new ways to connect with my customer,” she added.
Ray’s enthusiasm is displayed in her unique sales approach. Using her background in interior design, Ray goes the extra mile for her customers by making house calls to help them pick out the perfect linens. The Retailer of the Year judges praised her for “knowing her customer well,” by offering pre-wrapped grab-and-go gifts for the busy mom and reaching potential new shoppers through Instagram.
The judges also noted Ray’s strong support of the business community, calling attention to her work with the Mountain Brook Village Merchants Association, for which she founded and currently serves as president. The group strategizes ways to promote the shops
in the area, and over the years, Ray has helped create new village-wide events to bring new customers to the village, which has increased sales for all nearby merchants. Ray also is heavily involved in her local chamber.
“Marguerite goes above and beyond to help our chamber and local business,” said Suzan Doidge, executive director of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, who nominated Ray for the award. “She is true success story, being in business for more than 23 years. From the moment therapeutic aromas hit your nose when you walk into her store to the beautifully wrapped package her employee hands you after your purchase, Marguerite’s Conceits is designed to create a happy atmosphere. Marguerite is well deserving of this award.”
Ray attributes her business’ success to her commitment to surpass expectations in customer service. “I am there almost every single day,” said Ray. “My customers know me, I am accessible, and I am honest. I really love what I do and my customers, old and new, can tell that. I try to buy smarter and personalize every sales experience to keep my customers coming back.”
Ray accepted her award today along with her longtime employees, who she says makes coming to work feel like she’s “just spending time with friends.” 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 came from a pool of more than 70 nominees.
“Marguerite Ray is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the Marguerite’s Conceits customers, her three employees and the Mountain Brook 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 4,100 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.