Whenever Zach Roberts, manager of Great Outdoor Provision Company's Virginia Beach store, hires a new employee, the first bit of encouragement he offers is this.
"Everyone who lives in this area can sit at home and buy what we have in the store online so why should they leave, drive through traffic and come here?" Roberts said. "The reason is going to be you. It’s going to be how you treat them and the relationship they develop with you. You become their expert on this stuff. They’re going to always want to come back and talk to you. If they know you by name, you're doing your job."
In the last month, the youngest Great Outdoor Provisions Company location has received three regional awards recognizing them for excellent customer service.
Last week, shop manager Zach Roberts accepted Retail Alliance's Retailer of the Year Up and Comer award. The two other awards were from magazines: Coastal Virginia's gold award for outdoor equipment retailer and Virginia Living's award for best outdoor store in the state's eastern region.
“We are certainly humbled by the recognition Zach and his crew have received for their service in Virginia Beach.“— Chuck Millsaps, minister of culture at GOPC
Now that the Virginia Beach site is in the limelight, Roberts said their focus is to continue to meet the excellence expectation and strive to do even more.
“Our company culture is not really nebulous or confusing,” Roberts said. “We’re pretty adamant about our mission: We help others. We define that as broadly as possible. I like having a simple goal like that and so my focus has been to hire staff that accept that as their own personal goal and work toward that every single day."
Retail Alliance's Up and Comer awards were given to retailers who have been around for three years or less. Roberts has been the manager since the beginning, and before that, he was the paddlesports manager at the shop in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Kylie Ross Sibert, Retail Alliance's vice president of corporate communications, said unbiased judges scored stores based on customer service, cleanliness of the store, aesthetic, and all things related to customers having a good experience in retail.
"In retail, if you get to three years, it's very much is a sign of success and you’re doing pretty well," Ross Sibert said.
As summer approaches, Roberts said they're preparing for the influx of tourists from around the world. But equally important to them is Land Trust Day on Saturday, when 10 percent of the store's profits will go to the Lynnhaven River Now program to restore and conserve waterways. They're also a 1 percent for the Planet member.
“We're a company who is locally invested in the well-being of our neighbors and the environment," Roberts wrote in the nomination entry to Retail Alliance.
Great Outdoor Provision was Grassroots Outdoor Alliance's 2016 Retailer of the Year and also received the Community Involvement Award—the first time a single retailer has been recognized for two awards.