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Big checks, big hearts: NRF awards “This is Retail” finalists

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After an exciting month of April and nearly one million votes cast, the highly-anticipated announcement of the ranking for NRF's "This is Retail" top three finalists were announced before 200 retail executives and lobbyists at NRF’s Washington Leadership Conference.

Tanna Dang, co-owner of Eden in Love and representing Honolulu, Hawaii was awarded the $25,000 grand prize. Her video illustrating how her boutique has created opportunity and transformed lives in her community received nearly 30,000 views since going live on April 3. Admitting her joy (and a bit of jet lag) for being crowned the Best Retail Story in America, Dang didn’t stray from her philanthropic core. “This contest has reinforced that retail is bigger than all we really know,” she said in her acceptance speech. “We will use this grand prize to take our staff on an international mission trip to spread the opportunity that retail brings.”

Tanna Dang, Eden in Love, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tallahassee’s Kim Williams was honored with $15,000 for second place. Moving Polka Dot Press from her street to Main Street was no small task, Williams said, but later quipped, “In my twenty years of retail, I’ve never worked as hard as I have in this contest – but I’ve never felt so rewarded, either.” Flying back first thing tomorrow to open her doors for business, Williams admitted when the gravity and importance of the contest fully set in. “About halfway through, the contest became much more than a cash prize, but raising awareness for retail and my community.”

Kim Williams, Polka Dot Press, Tallahassee, Florida

Susan Kaufman – with the support of 7,500 residents of Monmouth, Illinois shining through her – graciously accepted the third place prize of $10,000. With emotions running high, Kaufman recalled the decision she made to open Market Alley Wines just over a year ago. “Leaving my career in journalism to open a retail store was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s changed my life and the lives of my loyal Monmouth customers.” Fighting back tears of joy, she closed with noting one of the themes that were prevalent in so many of the contest videos.  “Retail not only means jobs, but a chance for community revitalization and growth.”

Susan Kaufman, Market Alley Wines, Monmouth, Illinois

The final award, the Judges’ Choice Award, was presented to Jim Adams of Falls Road Running Store in Baltimore, Maryland. Receiving the highest scores from the panel of retail executives who determined the top 20 videos for the contest, NRF honored Adams for his story about how retail powers the economy with a sponsorship for the Baltimore Marathon in the name of his store.

The finalists were greeted by Bill Brand, HSN Executive Vice President of Programming, Marketing and Business Development, Terry Lundgren, Macy’s Chairman, CEO and President, and Chairman of the NRF Board of Directors, and NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. Among the flashbulbs and excitement, each honoree personified the essence of the "This is Retail" contest as part of the Retail Means Jobs initiative. The personalities and stories behind the industry that makes up 1 in 4 American jobs truly are inspiring.