MOUNTAIN BROOK / BIRMINGHAM – Oct. 18, 2016 – Linda Flaherty, a grandmother of seven, began designing baby linens as a business venture 11 years before she even had her first grandchild. “I started out as a little cottage industry doing nursery décor, making custom linens in my home. Within a year and half to two years, we had a retail space,” she said. At first she had a partner, but the two decided to go separate ways as distinct, but complimentary Mountain Brook businesses. Flaherty opened a second location in Homewood in 2009. Today, she operates the two Birmingham area stores with her husband, Joe, as a minority partner, and with one of her daughters, a stay-at-home mom, as a sounding board.
“I’m a grandmother, so I buy as a grandmother would dress her grandchildren,” said Flaherty, “but I have other staff and my daughter, who offer the young mother aspect. We have a balance. We’re traditional. We try to stay true to our belief in classic, timeless children’s clothing.” The store’s brand focuses on the “Southern baby,” Flaherty said.
In November, the original Once upon a time store in the Crestline Village of Mountain Brook will be 20 years old.
“Linda Flaherty and her team at Once Upon A Time have created a caring, involved culture where their love of the customer is the driving force behind all of their actions,” said Harry Long, who along with Flaherty’s husband and the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce nominated her as an Alabama Retailer of the Year.
“The customers become our friends,” said Flaherty. “We help first-time parents prepare for a life they’ve never experienced before.”
Caring, along with community leadership and staying abreast of modern technology and communication earned Flaherty and Once upon a time the title of Alabama’s Gold Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, honored Flaherty today at the 2016 Alabama Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham. Terrance G. “Terry” Finley, president and chief executive officer of Alabama-based Books-A-Million Inc., made the keynote address.
“Once upon a time shows amazing adaptation to reach their target market – expectant mothers and grandmothers – by utilizing video on social media,” the Retailer of the Year judges said. Weekly videos featuring the store’s associates are posted and promoted on Facebook and Instagram. Once upon a time also recently launched an online store that includes a baby registry.
Once upon a time, an Alabama Retail member since 2007, was one of 13 retail businesses honored at today’s luncheon. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 nominees. The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards program, started in 1999, honors outstanding retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities.
“Linda Flaherty is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the Once upon a time customers, its 10 employees and the Mountain Brook and Homewood communities,” 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.