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. The event marked the 11th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Janet Holcomb, owner of The Fitting Touch, a Birmingham specialty lingerie store dedicated to fitting women with the proper bra size, received the Gold Award in the “Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million” sales category. Holcomb was the Vestavia Hills Retailer of the Year in 2007 and was the silver winner in this same category in 2008. Mary Beyer Lell, a leasing associate for Bayer Properties, nominated Holcomb for this prestigious award.
Knowing that 85 percent of women wear the incorrect size bra, Holcomb opened her store in 2004 at the Vestavia City Center with a mission to change women’s appearance and self esteem by putting them in the right size bra.
A year ago, the store moved to The Summit in Birmingham after five years at its previous location. “… Economic conditions made this adventure a huge leap of faith,” Holcomb wrote in her entry. That “leap” paid off with a 46 percent increase in sales for the fourth quarter of 2009 and a 49 percent increase in the first two quarters of 2010.
The store doubled its square footage in the move, so it also expanded product lines and offerings within existing lines. Most impressively, this niche store increased its customer base by more than 4,200 from 2008 to 2009. Holcomb has plans to expand the store even more in 2011.
“Janet has … an unbelievable work ethic. She has increased her sales even in this down economy and truly believes in using marketing to get people into her store,” Lell said in her nomination of Holcomb.
“… Even in a tough economy, it is a must for a retailer to keep promoting their business, and when the economy strengthens, so will their business!,” Holcomb wrote in her entry, saying she has concentrated her advertising dollars over the past year in television and radio spots.
“She does it all, and she does it very well,” one of the Retailer of the Year judges said of Holcomb’s business and community acumen.
As president of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, Holcomb has helped work on a rebranding campaign for the city. She also promotes the retail industry by hiring interns and sharing secrets of her success with other businesses.
“The Fitting Touch has been recommended by top bra manufacturers as one of the most knowledgeable teams in training for bra fit in the United States,” according to Holcomb’s entry. In fact, in 2009, five new specialty store owners from other U.S. locations came to her store to train.
Why such success in a brutal retail market? “We strive to make each woman feel special not only on the outside, but on the inside as well,” she said. Holcomb and her staff of six full-time and seven part-time employees accomplish that mission daily.
Janet Holcomb, The Fitting Touch | 205.972.4424
Nancy Dennis, Alabama Retail Association | 334.263.5757 Ext. 101 | 800.239.5423