A SILVER STAR IN OPP: J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop earns ARA’s Retailer of the Year Award
Published 9:15 am Saturday, October 1, 2022
A business that began 36 years ago in a backyard garage has grown into an important part of the Opp community and is now the Alabama Retail Association’s 2022 Silver Star Retailers of the Year.
J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop was recognized Thursday in a presentation of the Silver Star Award where the owners — Joe and Kelli Richburg — were applauded by a packed store of supporters.
In accepting the award, Joe Richburg gave credit to the support of his family, dedicated employees, and loyal customers.
“I thank God for allowing us to be here. I gave up just about everything for this business. I think about my mother, a worn-out daddy, and hundreds of thousands of hours we put in on this floor. It’s been a task, but I couldn’t have done it without God and the numerous number of customers we work with every day. We couldn’t have done it without our employees who are all so dedicated. I’m thankful for the support I’ve had from city officials and from my wife, who doesn’t get to see me all that much. This business has meant a lot to me. We went from nothing to what we have now. God has blessed us,” Richburg said.
In 1986, when Joe and his father began the business in a single roll-up garage in the backyard of the family home, the purpose was strictly lawnmower repair.
“Our business has evolved and expanded over the years and now proudly offers a wide array of lawn and outdoor merchandise/equipment from multiple name-brand companies. Our business is stocked with the parts necessary to repair and maintain the products we sell,” the Richburgs said in their Retailer of the Year entry.
The Retailer of the Year judges commended the business for “starting with lawnmowers, then adapting and staying current by stocking products that are relevant.” Since 2000, the shop has sold, rented and serviced golf carts, which stretched their customer base to an entire region of the country.
J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop occupies five structures and a fenced lot on 10-plus acres in Opp, including the main showroom/repair shop/covered area for lawn mowers, an office building, three warehouses and the fenced lot for its golf cart inventory.
Kelly Brandin, executive administrator of the Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce, nominated J.R.’s for the award.
“It was my honor to nominate J.R.’s. This is a true grassroots business. Joe and his dad took something that was small and it evolved into what it is today. We are very proud to have J.R.’s as a part of the Opp community. Through its local, out-of-county and internet sales, J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop has had, and continues to have, a major economic impact on our city and county.” Brandin said.
Among those on hand for the event were elected officials for the City of Opp and Covington County.
“We are so proud to have Joe as one of Opp’s own. You have dedicated your life to God and invested in our city. I don’t know anyone with a work ethic like Joe and his success reflects that. It is a much-deserved award,” said Opp Mayor Becky Bracke.
There were 55 nominees for the Retailer of the Year Award with 11 being recognized based on annual sales. J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop was recognized in the category of businesses with annual sales totaling $5 million to $20 million.
“The judges for this award are retailers and are peers, recognizing what a great job is being done here at J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop. Joe and Kelli Richburg are retailers of the year every year to their customers, their 25 employees, the greater Opp community and their region,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop occupies five structures and a fenced lot on 10-plus acres in Opp, including the main showroom and repair shop, a covered area for lawn mowers, an office building, three warehouses and the fenced lot for its golf cart inventory.
The Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce recognized J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop as its inaugural Business of the Year in 2012. In 2010 and 2018, the chamber honored Joe Richburg with its Spirit of Opportunity Award. Also, in 2018, the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities in Covington County named J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop as the Small Business Employer of the Year for working with special needs students in the Job Exploration Training program.
J.R’s Lawnmower Shop has been an Alabama Retail Association member since 2001.