BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, today recognized 18 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 29 Alabama cities and 16 states as “Retailers of the Year.” The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2012 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 13th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Christopher M. Groom, owner and chief executive officer of Mountain High Outfitters, a chain of six specialty outdoor retail stores with five locations in Alabama and one in Atlanta, earned the Bronze Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $5 Million to $20 Million category. Groom plans to open a seventh store in Nashville in November.
Mountain High Outfitters began with the premise of getting people active, outdoors and living their passion. Thirteen years later, the vision remains the same. “Mountain High Outfitters realizes that fit, fashion, and function are what the consumer desires, so Groom intends to stay on the cutting edge of style and technology, tell a compelling story and create a unique shopping experience,” said Suzan Doidge executive director of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, who nominated Groom for the award. The Retailer of the Year judges commended Groom for the strong growth and expansion of his stores, as well as for improved training for his 100-plus employees.
A “Mountain High Experience” is the goal at the locally owned and operated shops in Birmingham at The Summit, Galleria, Cahaba Village and Harbert Plaza; in Huntsville at The Bridge Street Town Centre; in Atlanta at the newest store and at the e-commerce site. The stores offer outdoor apparel, footwear and lifestyle clothing for the entire family, as well as an extensive gear selection.
Groom strives to keep up with emerging brands and activities in the outdoor industry such as the barefoot/minimalist revolution, stand-up paddle boards, long boards and organic bouldering pads, which encourage participation in the latest sport and fitness crazes, he said. Mountain High has added about 25 new vendors in three years; increased its focus on female shoppers, who tend to be the primary shoppers; and added interactive kiosks and televisions in some stores, Groom wrote in his entry. “We are building a lifestyle, whether you are headed out tailgating, going to the beach, heading to the slopes, backpacking or hitting the trails,” he said.
Mountain High considers customer engagement and service as primary to its mission. The staff includes trail runners, backpackers, adventure racers, climbers, paddlers, disc golfers and others who enjoy an active lifestyle. “Employees are trained on every aspect of the store and receive extra training on the specific locations and products where they have responsibility. We have many long-term employees who have been utilized to open new stores and train new employees,” Groom said. The Mountain High team likes to match customers with the perfect brand for their need and provide unparalleled in-store service.
“Christopher is also a community activist who encourages his employees to take part, and give back to the community,” Doidge said in her nomination. “Participating in and giving back to the community has remained on the forefront of Mountain High Outfitter’s vision.”
The stores’ socially responsible vision includes in-house fundraisers for various charities. In the past few years, Mountain High events have benefitted Tuscaloosa tornado victims; Kid One Transport, a Birmingham nonprofit, through a fashion show; and most recently Ovarian Cycle, an event held in conjunction with the grand opening of Mountain High’s new Atlanta location.
Groom is a 1993 business graduate of The University of Alabama.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Christopher Groom is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his customers, employees and the communities where his stores are located.”
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