MOUNTAIN BROOK / BIRMINGHAM – Oct. 17, 2017 – “I had no interest in opening a yoga studio just to open a yoga studio,” said Annie Damsky, who in 2012 founded Villager Yoga in Mountain Brook. “I was interested in bringing kids and families together to do yoga.”
The Retailer of the Year judges, who chose Damsky and Villager Yoga as Alabama’s 2017 Gold Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category, said, “She started her business on that unique selling proposition, maintained it and continued to grow it.”
The retail marketer accomplished her business goal of bringing families together by being the only certified local provider of ongoing prenatal yoga classes as well as offering classes for parents with their children and all age levels of children, including kids summer camps. Her commitment to children extends to collaborating with Alabama Baby & Child Magazine on their editorial panel.
“I always wanted to open my own business,” said Damsky. “I decided I would combine my passion of yoga and business together. I looked for a niche that wasn’t in the community.”
As the sole proprietor, “I do the majority of my marketing and business planning on my own,” she added.
Doug Schneider, executive vice president of business administration of Bayer Properties, said, “Annie’s retail knowledge, marketing expertise and business acumen, combined with her passion for building a yoga community, has made this retail venture a success.” Damsky’s background includes being the account executive for advertising and private label marketing for Saks Inc. and Parisian as well as former director of marketing for Bayer Properties. Besides yoga classes, Villager Yoga sells yoga apparel and accessories. Damsky even incorporates some products into the yoga classes.
In September of 2016, the business launched a free Villager Yoga app for iPhone and Android, which allows students to access the class schedule, pre-register and pay for classes and workshops. “The app, the targeting, the sales tracking, I was impressed with the level of logistics behind it,” said a Retailer of the Year judge.
The Alabama Retail Association honored Damsky today at the Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham, which is held in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business. Villager Yoga was one of 14 retail businesses honored as Retailers of the Year. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 90 nominees. The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities.
“Villager Yoga is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the Villager Yoga customers, its 17 employees and the Mountain Brook 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.