Jessica Parker named Master Merchant

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Jessica Parker
A Rutherford Farmers Cooperative merchandiser recently was named one of five Tennessee Farmers Cooperative 2012 Master Merchants of the Year for efforts to improve the quality of merchandising and increase of sales within her store.

Jessica Parker was honored for her accomplishments Jan. 7 during the 2013 Co-op Winter Managers Meeting in Murfreesboro. Other winners of the statewide award were Marissa Shamblin of Valley Farmers Co-op, Keith Earhart of Montgomery Farmers Co-op, and Sam White of Gibson Farmers Co-op.

In addition, Celeste Scott of First Farmers Co-op in Lexington was recognized with a new award, Advanced Master Merchant of the Year, for her “continued commitment and excellence in merchandising practices.”

The winners were chosen based on their initiative, creativity, enthusiasm, and accountability, according to Erin Boulware of TFC’s Retail Development Department. The nominations were made by a variety of sources including TFC regional managers, field staff, vendors, and Co-op employees.

The awards are part of Co-op’s Master Merchant program to help local employees create more customer-friendly stores. The buying habits, patterns and preferences of Co-op customers are considered as employees help develop and implement effective merchandising programs.

Parker is among some 150 local Co-op employees throughout Tennessee who have been certified as Master Merchants and are continuing their education in merchandising principles and customer service. To maintain their certification, Master Merchants must regularly attend continuing education sessions offered by TFC each year. Parker, who has been with Rutherford Farmers Cooperative for 10 years, attended her first Master Merchant training two years ago and immediately put her knowledge to work giving her store a new look, said Boulware.

“My favorite project thus far has been the complete facelift on the [Woodbury] store,” said Parker. “We reset the merchandise and shelving, painted the walls, installed new lights and ceiling tiles. Master Merchant training is where I gained some of these new ideas.”

Among award criteria used in judging nominees are enhancement of the Co-op’s image, increased sales in improved areas, effective merchandising practices, designing building displays that reflect customers’ current needs, signage, lighting, promotion planning, and outside displays. Tennessee Farmers Cooperative is the regional farm supply and service organization owned by 56 member Co-ops across the state. These locally owned Co-ops, with some 150 retail outlets, are the premier source for farm supply products and services for the state’s farmers.

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