Local businesses in running for retailer of year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2014

Three Covington County businesses are among the 41 finalists for the Alabama Retail Association’s Retailer of the Year Award.

Darby’s Village Pharmacy in Andalusia, Carolina Mill Works, and J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop in Opp are three of the 41 entrants from which the judge’s panel will choose.

“I’m just speechless,” Joe Richburg, owner of J.R.’s, said.

“I’m standing here working, sweating like always, and I had no idea,” he said.

Richburg opened his business in 1986.

“We’ve worked hard for what we’ve got, and it didn’t come easy,” he said. “I’m shocked. It’s a blessing to know we’re included.”

David Darby, who with his wife, Laura, owns Darby’s Village Pharmacy and Medical Center Pharmacy, expressed similar sentiment.

“There are some large companies and some big box stores among those being considered,” he said. “There is a lot of retail from across the state represented.”

The Darbys recently expanded into more traditional retail when they opened their Medical Center Pharmacy, which carries a large selection of game day attire, kids’ clothing, and has a bridal registry, as well as traditional items found in a pharmacy.

Before opening the local pharmacies, David Darby managed the “front end” for Harco pharmacies, customizing the retail portions for many locations.

“I always enjoyed the front end, but this project is more Laura and Sarah’s,” he said, referring to his wife and daughter.

Jimmy Cox of Carolina Mill Works also was surprised.

“I didn’t think anybody knew where I was, down here in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “But we do work all over the state. Right now we have projects going in Phil Campbell, Huntsville, Birmingham, all the way down to here.”

Carolina Mill Works opened 13 years ago and employs more than 30 people.





Nancy Dennis of the Alabama Retail Association said the winners will be announced around August 1, and are being selected by an independent panel that includes representatives of the state’s chambers of commerce; retail development; media; a former retailer of the year; and someone from the academic community whose area or expertise is retail.

At present, the Retail Association is conducting a poll about the retailers on Facebook. While the results will be presented to the judges, Dennis said, the poll is not a formal part of the judging process.

(To vote, click here. )

Anyone may nominate an Alabama retailer. Nominees are then asked to complete an application process.

If sufficient nominations are received, finalists will be selected in four categories by sales volume:

Less than $1 million

$1 million to $5 million

$5 million to $20 million

More than $20 million

A Bronze, Silver and Gold award will be presented in each category when warranted.