Mark Whitlock receives the State’s Top Retailer Gold Award from the Alabama Retail Association
BIRMINGHAM, AL – The Alabama Retail Association (ARA) in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham today recognized 12 outstanding Alabama retailers as “Retailers of the Year.” The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during UAB’s 2008 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the ninth presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
|Photo: Carson Studios
Alabama Retail Association
Mark Whitlock, president of Mark’s Outdoor Sports (www.marksoutdoors.com) in Vestavia Hills, an Alabama Retail Association member since 1995, received the Gold Award in its category. Karen Odle, executive director of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Ken Miller a marketing instructor at the UAB School of Business, nominated Whitlock for the award. Whitlock also received letters of recommendation from about a dozen organizations and individuals, including Gov. Bob Riley.
“Mark’s Outdoor Sports is one of the premier stores of its kind in Alabama,” Riley said. As a Year of Outdoor Alabama Ambassador in 2006, Whitlock was “instrumental in helping promote tourism and hunting and fishing in our great state and continues this endeavor today.”
The Retailer of the Year judges commended this hunting and fishing equipment retailer for:
• its international reputation, ranking No. 1 for sales internationally among independent retailers for Zeiss Optics and Costa Del Mar, and No. 1 nationally for sales of more than dozen outdoor brands;
“When you have a local merchant that becomes the No. 1 dealer in the world in anything, it speaks volumes about their products and service,” Odle said in her nomination of Whitlock.
• the explosion of information available to its customers on its Web site with 5,000 pages added in the past year alone;
• and its conservation efforts. Each year, Mark’s Outdoor Sports restocks Lay Lake with bass for its Lay Lake Open bass tournament. To date over the tournament’s 17-year-history, Mark’s has used the profits from the tournament to stock the lake with more than 2 million bass fingerlings. Mark’s Outdoor Sports also supports Alabama’s Hunter Education Program by holding classes at the store.
Mark’s Outdoor Sports will celebrate its 29th year in business in 2009 and is the fourth largest taxpayer in the city
of Vestavia Hills, but its real claim to fame is its person-to-person service. A brand of service, which Whitlock has branded as “suicidal,” or SCS, and that had all those who wrote letters recommending Whitlock for this award, from the governor to sales representatives to the director of the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, referring to him as a personal friend.
To Whitlock, this award goes to his “team,” the 26 employees whose sales efforts have led to double-digit increases each year for the past decade and who deliver stellar service to every customer who walks in the door.
“Mark Whitlock is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his employees and the Birmingham metro area,” said Rick Brown, president of the Alabama Retail Association.