TUSCALOOSA – John “Jay” G. Newman II, CEO, founder and owner of Ugo Convenience Delivery in Tuscaloosa, along with chief marketing officer Matt Tietz have been named Alabama’s 2019 Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year. UGO Convenience Delivery was one of 14 retail businesses honored today as Retailers of the Year. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 nominees. The 2019 winners were honored during the Alabama Retail Day celebration in Birmingham.
Ugo Convenience Delivery is a virtual convenience store accessed by smartphone app that delivers a range of products directly to customers within 20 minutes or less. The company stocks some 500 different products commonly found in convenience stores, including snacks, electronics, health supplies, school supplies and more.
A New Jersey native, Newman was a University of Alabama student sitting in his fraternity bedroom when he got his idea. “I had a bunch of snacks that my mom sent down as a care package,” he said. “You know word gets around and sure enough, I had a couple of kids come in and say, ‘Hey, do you have any double A batteries for an X-Box controller or ‘Hey, do you have any Gatorade or water?’ ” His next thought was, “Wait, why don’t we have a convenience store that delivers directly to you?”
Jim Page, president and chief executive officer of The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, nominated the retailers for the award. “Rather than simply running the business from his room on campus, Newman sought out space in The EDGE, a local business incubator that offered mentoring, counseling, business development and other support services,” Page said. Newman graduated from the incubator in 2016.
To anyone who asks, Newman notes a benefit that distinguishes his business from the rest. “We sell something that other places don’t sell, and that’s time.”
The Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year Award is named in memory of the late Morris “Mickey” Gee, a former Alabama Retail board member and University of Alabama at Birmingham professor. The award is given annually to an innovative and effective Alabama retailer who has been in business for at least two years, but less than five. Gee, who owned the Pants Store for more than 30 years, realized that the first five years are tough, but young businesses can have a huge impact. Newman, Tietz and Ugo Convenience Delivery are the first-ever Emerging Retailer of the Year from Tuscaloosa. The Retailer of the Year judges called them innovative and true entrepreneurs.
“Jay Newman and Matt Tietz are retailers that stand out every day to UGO Convenience Delivery’s 9,000 registered customers, their 36 employees and the Tuscaloosa 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 4,200 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.