Monograms Plus changing hands after 19 years


Cullman’s Monograms Plus is an anchor of the Warehouse District. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – Monograms Plus of Cullman, a staple in Cullman’s Warehouse District, announced new ownership Tuesday, with longtime owners Margaret and Mark Hamm passing the torch to new owners Lynsey and Tommy Todd.

Lynsey Todd said she first became acquainted with Monograms in high school as a jewelry vendor and has shopped there for years. She has worked as the store’s manager for more than a year to prepare for the new role as owner.

She said she’s always loved the store and had a good relationship with Margaret Hamm, but years ago she did not anticipate that she would have a chance to take on an ownership role.

“I have shopped this business and I have sold them jewelry since I was in high school, and I’ve always loved this store,” she said. “It’s one of the first places that I spent money when I had it. I’ve always wanted to own something like this, but I didn’t think it was a reality really and Margaret and I have joked about it for a couple of years. You know, if I would see her somewhere I would say ‘Hey, I’ll come work for you,’ and she would always say ‘Here’s the keys’ or something like that, but she called a couple of years ago and she was serious. That made my day, so I put in my notice after that and came to work for her, I’ve been here for a little over a year now with the intent to buy.”

Todd credits her relationship and time spent with Hamm over the years with preparing her for this new responsibility and said she plans to continue learning.

“She’s probably the best business woman I know. She’s built this business up from a garage store; she’s had this business for 19 years and it’s extremely successful. People from all over the United States shop here so that’s huge, and anything I could learn I’ve just been soaking it up,” said Todd. “She’s actually going to stay on with me for the next year to kind of help me through that and get set up and everything so I’m really appreciative of that. I have a good relationship with her. I knew her kids in school; they were younger than me, but I knew them and like I said just from shopping here I got to know her.”

Todd doesn’t have any plans to change much around Monograms Plus, but she does want to work on bringing more of an online presence to the business.

“I’m hoping to get our website back up and running to be able to sell online and bring e-commerce into it. I know that’s probably the main thing, but there’s no sense in trying to fix something that isn’t broken so that’s really my only thing I plan to work on right now,” she said.

Todd is excited for her new role as owner, but the thing she is most happy about is being able to work in Cullman and interact directly with her community.

“Being able to work in Cullman is a huge blessing for me because I was born and raised here. I’ve never left, but I’ve always had to commute to work. I’ve worked in Birmingham, Huntsville, Guntersville and a little bit of everywhere so being able to be here close and experience my community which I’m super proud of…. Being able to be here and talk to all of the people I know, and that kind of thing is probably my number one,” she smiled.

Hamm, on social media Tuesday evening, said:

Today marks the end of a chapter in my life, and in the history of Monograms Plus of Cullman, along with a beginning for the next exciting chapter! It is with a heart filled with gratitude and appreciation that Mark and I pass the torch to the new owners, Lynsey and Tommy Todd. We have worked together toward this goal for almost 18 months, and will continue to be involved to support Lynsey as she transitions from Manager to Owner! Forgive me for a wordy post, but I have so many people to thank!

First and foremost, we give all the glory to God. Countless prayers have carried us through, from beginning this journey in our garage with one embroidery machine, to our almost 19 years in the Warehouse District. We have prayed over monogramming for new babies, all the way through to some heartfelt final resting creations…and everything in between. We have welcomed a second generation of customers, and have said goodbye to some beloved customers and reps, who became dear friends as well. We have been blessed and praise God for our journey.

My family has supported this crazy dream from its inception, and made many sacrifices beginning in the early years, while I worked 6 days a week….for 6 years, as well as having our Christmas season and celebrations condensed to two days. Mark has been by my side and supported every wild idea with his time and his talents. Daughters Sarah and Ellen grew up in the store and pitched in with every task….inventory, giftwrapping, monogramming, floor resets…you name it! Their husbands, John and Chris, have generously given their time to assist with heavy lifting, technology – anything that we asked of them. To all of you, thank you….and now your holiday weekends are yours again!

We have had many employees who made this dream possible, starting with my dear friend and very first employee, Karen Messersmith. I could never have made this work without her support, friendship, and artistic direction. She logged many a market mile with me! So proud that she has successfully launched her own entrepreneurial venture with Just Write Cullman – creating and teaching calligraphy! Many other employees have contributed to the success of Monograms Plus, and many have become treasured friends as well. Our current crew is ready to launch this new chapter, and have been a big part of making it all happen. Thanks to all of you, past and present!

We are blessed to be supported by incredible reps throughout the industry. Your involvement, advice and guidance are invaluable, and many treasured friendships have been made. We couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks to all of you!

I couldn’t have done this without my many industry friends – you know who you are, and I thank you for the inspiration, guidance, motivation and caring friendship you have unfailingly offered to us. You are all amazing store owners, and I continue to be thankful for you.

We have the best Landlord on the planet! Eddie Hart has helped us with every expansion, with every modification we asked to make, and has been a true partner to Monograms Plus. The same can be said for Gloria Winton, our CPA and her crew. Tammy, we owe you big!

To all of our customers, I just don’t have the words to adequately express what you mean to me. Many of you have been loyal from our opening days in 1999 and still bless us with your business today. I have watched your babies grow up, and now we are welcoming grandchildren together! I am so blessed to call many of you friends, and to share life events with you. The world of retail has changed dramatically over 19 years, but you still choose to shop with us, and our local retail neighbors, even when you have countless online options. That is why we are here – you recognize that if you want to be able to shop locally, you have to shop locally! We appreciate you, and thank you most sincerely for making Monograms Plus possible.

Lynsey started out as a jewelry vendor for us in high school, and has been a loyal customer for many years. She brings many years of progressively responsible retail experience to us, and Mark and I hand picked her to continue the Monograms Plus legacy. We look forward to seeing her implement her awesome plans and ideas, and know that we can count on everyone to support her as she takes the reins. We love you, Lynsey – break a leg!

Forgive me if I forgot anyone – thanks to each and every one of you!

Margaret Hamm is a member of the Alabama Retail Association’s board of directors. She and her husband, Mark Hamm, opened Monograms Plus in 1999.

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