BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 48 Alabama cities and 12 other states as Retailers of the Year. The 13 winning Retailers of the Year came from a pool of almost 70 nominees. The presentations were made at the Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham during the 2014 Retail Day Luncheon. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley presented the keynote address and signed a statewide proclamation declaring Sept. 23 as Alabama Retail Day. This marked the 15th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Mike LeCroix, owner and director of fun at The Orchard Apple Specialist in Gulf Shores, which sells Macintosh computers, iPads, iPods, and related accessories, earned the Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year Award. Alabama’s Emerging Retailer of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Mickey Gee, a former Alabama Retail vice chairman and UAB professor. Gee, who worked in retail all his life as owner of The Pants Store, played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in the development of the Retailer of the Year awards. The Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year Award goes to an innovative and effective Alabama retailer who has been in business for at least two years, but less than five years. According to the award criteria, the Gee award is only presented in years when the judges determine a candidate is worthy of the Gee name.
“Although (The Orchard Apple Specialist has) been open in the community for a little over two years, it has made a huge impact!,” said John Chamberlain, Retail and Business Service Council chairman for the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, who nominated LeCroix for the award. The Orchard Apple Specialist is the only Apple authorized service provider in Baldwin County, and, in 2013, achieved Apple’s Premier Specialist Ranking. “It is very rare to have an Apple specialist of this quality, with the knowledge and experience of their staff that is not owned by the Apple Corp.,” Chamberlain added. The Retailer of the Year judges lauded the business for how “quickly it became indispensable to the community.”
Besides being a chamber member and participating in the chamber’s membership drive and Christmas campaigns, The Orchard Apple Specialist is a member of the Baldwin Business Council in Daphne and a founding member of the Partners in Growth Networking Group in Gulf Shores. The store helps raise money for testicular cancer awareness and for the Caitlin Buemi Charity. It also assists the Fairhope Free Clinic and the Baldwin Literacy Council through donations of Apple products. It helps sponsor one of Baldwin County’s biggest Easter Egg hunts and donates time and expertise to work with local schools, while offering free training classes to the community even before local consumers buy an Apple product..
The store worked with Gulf Shores High School to start an intern program. Its intern, Stephen Franklin, was the youngest Apple Certified Mac Technician to date and he holds two other Apple certifications.
The store has a full-time employee handling social media and expanded its promotions in 2013 to include billboards
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Mike LeCroix is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his customers, his eight employees and the communities of Baldwin County.”
Media Contact: Mike LeCroix, The Orchard Apple Specialist | 251.923.2100
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423