MOBILE – G. Brent Barkin, former president and chief executive officer of Shoe Station Inc., is the Alabama Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales More Than $20 Million category. Upon learning of the honor, he said, “I dedicate this award to my late father, Terry S. Barkin.”
Barkin’s father started Shoe Station in Mobile in 1984. Barkin joined the management team of the family business in 2002 and has led the brand since 2015. Shoe Station sells women’s, men’s and children’s footwear, apparel and accessories for a family-focused market in 22 stores in five Southeastern states, including 10 stores in Alabama.
At the close of 2021, Barkin negotiated the acquisition of Shoe Station by footwear retail giant Shoe Carnival, where he currently serves as senior vice president of new business development and integration and leads the Shoe Station brand. Barkin said he wanted “to continue to grow (the Shoe Station) brand and expand. We’ve just been ecstatic to find a partner that shares that exact vision.”
The Shoe Station banner of Shoe Carnival is one of 11 businesses honored as the 2022 Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association.
Barkin’s commitment to his community and industry impressed the Retailer of the Year judges. He serves on the board of directors and as incoming chairman of the Mobile Chamber, which nominated him as Retailer of the Year. At the end of June, Barkin completed a term as board chair for the United Way of Southwest Alabama and formerly served as campaign chair. He is also active in developing industry professionals through his involvement in the Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama.
Alvin J. Williams, interim dean/chair and distinguished professor of marketing at the Mitchell College of Business, said, “In my 40+ years in collegiate business schools, I have never encountered a CEO that matched Brent’s passion, commitment and general enthusiasm for planting the ‘seed of retailing’ among students. He was the catalyst behind our Retail Certificate Program,” Williams wrote in a letter of recommendation for Barkin. “This is a non-credit program designed to enhance student awareness of the breadth and depth of retail opportunities and challenges confronting entrepreneurs. It is a ‘mini’ retail course featuring a range of speakers representing every aspect of retailing.” Barkin also helped shape the college’s workplace preparation curriculum as a board member of the Professional Readiness Engagement Program, and the Barkin family established a scholarship to honor his late father’s legacy.
Brent Barkin continues to pay homage to his father by looking to establish stores in cities with institutions like the University of South Alabama and a healthy chamber. “(My father) thought that there was value in bringing a variety of product, a variety brand selection to a medium sized market like Mobile,” Barkin said. “From Day One, he saw how strong the Mobile culture was, how good it could be for businesses.”
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.
“Brent Barkin is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his customers, to the more than 500 Shoe Station employees, to the Mobile area and the communities where Shoe Station stores are located,” 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.