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2017 Young Retailer of the Year: Camille Gibson

Multi-store Retailer

Mark’s Ace Hardware, Tucson, Arizona

General Manager

When an 18-year-old Camille Gibson started as a part-time cashier at Mark’s Ace Hardware, she thought it would be a short-term job to get her through college. Ten years later, she has worked her way up through the business to general manager, and has developed a deep passion for the industry. At the age of 28, Gibson has reached great achievements and has been instrumental in the growth of the company.

In 2016, Gibson worked with store owner Mark Rios to open a second store. She coordinated with the construction company and Ace Hardware corporate to design the new space and plan merchandising and product selection. She also initiated hiring events to staff the new store with high-quality employees. She implemented a number of changes that were integral to the new store including establishing new bank accounts and acquiring new license numbers, credit cards and utility accounts. She was integral in transforming the business into a functional multi-store company.

Once the new store was up and running, Gibson added new programs and services to improve customers’ experiences. She implemented a “Get Credit for Value” program to remain competitive with a Walmart location nearby, which worked effectively at the main location in achieving a 30 percent increase in sales. She also created new uniforms for the entire staff to build a stronger “Mark’s Ace” brand.

At the main store, Gibson implemented and oversaw 18 major department resets. She also expanded several niche categories including nursery, Yankee Candles, Yeti Coolers and pet and bird supplies. She implemented a clip-strip merchandising program that increased sales more than 300 percent for the category.

While she’s been instrumental in the success of both store locations, she also improved back-office procedures to increase cost-savings. She brought bookkeeping in-house, adjusted the company’s hiring strategy, converted the store to LED lights to cut electric costs and decreased credit card fees with a pin-pad upgrade. Additionally, she decreased shrinkage by 30 percent by adding security cameras and implementing a system for employees to notify one another of potential theft.

Not only is Gibson dedicated to Mark’s Ace Hardware, she’s also committed to her customers. For example, each week Gibson visits a local nursery to hand-pick specific plants to sell in the store, and cares for them to keep them looking their best.

Gibson strategically led the implementation of a new B2B process for the company. She hired a new sales team to handle large accounts, designed a B2B in-store sales desk, purchased a commercial flatbed delivery truck and continuously sets aggressive sales and growth goals for her B2B sales team.

Since she became general manager in 2013, total annual gross sales have increased more than $600,000. Additionally, the main store, which she manages, has been awarded Ace Hardware’s most elite Pinnacle status for three years in a row. The new, second store achieved Platinum status in its first year, which is the highest ranking possible for a brand-new store.

Employee retention also increased by 35 percent once Gibson became general manager. She has developed new programs and procedures to ensure her employees’ success. For example, she created an “Ace Awards” program to recognize staff who use a specific sales process to assist customers.

“Customers leave our store with more than just merchandise,” says Gibson. “They leave with knowledge on the product they have purchased and confidence in the decisions they make while shopping at our stores. I am proud of the stores that we have created and the people I work with. I look forward to more challenges and opportunities ahead.”

While it’s clear Gibson has a knack for the home improvement business, she keeps her skills sharp by frequently participating in webinars on business-related topics, completing product knowledge training courses, frequently testing new products and staying up-to-date by researching merchandising and general best practices.

Gibson is a busy woman who is always working to make Mark’s Ace Hardware the best it can be. Even so, Gibson keeps the company involved in the community by making donations and participating in events. Gibson serves as a judge for a local science fair and awards the “best use of hardware.” She and her team also volunteer at local events to support law enforcement officers and the environment among other causes. Mark’s Ace Hardware also participates in an annual shop-local celebration for area vendors and businesses.

Watch Gibson’s video here.

About Hilary Welter

As marketing and research coordinator, it’s Hilary’s duty to keep retailers informed about NRHA products and services and to help coordinate industry research projects. Additionally, Hilary is the voice behind NRHA’s and Hardware Retailing’s social media accounts. She appreciates a good book, spicy food, well-made horror films, craft beer and exploring new places near and far.

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