HEADLAND – When driving along U.S. 431 in Headland, you can’t miss Todd Farms, just turn into the parking lot when you get to the 38-foot-tall red barn and the World’s Largest Syrup Bottle. While the combo general store/restaurant run by seventh generation syrup-makers is a recognizable landmark, it caught the attention of the Alabama Retailer of the Year judges for growing its business over the past 19 months.
The judges chose owners and partners Dewey and Annette Todd as the Bronze Alabama Retailers of the Year in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. Todd Farms is one of 11 businesses honored by the Alabama Retail Association as the 2021 Retailers of the Year. It has been a member of the association since its opening in 2015.
“This accomplishment would not have happened without the support of our loyal customers and the diligent work of our faithful and dedicated employees and family,” the Todds said today when accepting the award. “This award is a demonstration of the value that small businesses have in a world that has grown increasingly corporate in nature.”
Notably, the store and restaurant benefited from the support of the community during the pandemic’s lockdown stage. “Our ‘saving grace’ during the lockdown was sales of frozen casseroles and offering expanded takeout, curbside, drive-thru and pickup options for food orders,” the Todds said. A small recreational vehicle park added to the property in 2019 and sales of store products through its online store also expanded in 2020. The Todds said they “plan to invest more in our RV campground this year to draw more travelers and in response to the explosion in RV purchases that occurred in 2020. We are also a traditional syrup-maker, and we find that travelers and groups like to come during syrup season and watch our syrup-making process.”
Syrup-making is a family tradition for the Todd family, going back to the early 1800s. Besides the syrup-making, the 22-foot-tall syrup bottle with a Todd Farms label brings visitors on its own. “This puts us on the list of the ‘Largest Objects You Must Visit Before You Die!’ It’s a great draw for tourists and photo-ops,” the Todds said.
“In one generation, we have gone from a syrup business operating out of a ‘cigar box’ at the back door to more than $600,000 in sales,” said the Todds, who put the most value on connecting with customers. “We will gladly trade significant expansion in order to know our customers and have a strong positive relationship with them.”
“The Todd family supports the Headland community and represents our rich agricultural heritage,” wrote Adrienne Wilkins, executive director of the Headland Chamber of Commerce, in nominating the retailer. “They have built their business on kindness, hospitality and old-fashioned Southern charm. We hope to see Todd Farms Country Store for a long time in Headland.”
The Retailer of the Year judges noted, “Todd Farms has made a significant impact on its community. It is a prevailing business in Headland.” 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 49 entries submitted from a pool of 80 nominees.
“Dewey and Annette Todd are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, their 10 employees and the Headland community,” 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.