Rumors Deli named Retailer of the Year 2nd year in a row; new area business Lavish Boutique brings home 2 awards

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Photo courtesy of the Alabama Retail Association

Rumors Deli owner Annette Harris / Photo courtesy of the Alabama Retail Association

BIRMINGHAM – Out of a pool of almost 100 nominees statewide, two Cullman area business owners brought home Retailer of the Year honors Tuesday at the Alabama Retail Association (ARA) awards luncheon in Birmingham. 

Annette Harris of Rumors Deli earned a bronze award in the small business category.  Shannon and Dustin Beaty of Jasper’s Lavish Boutique, who recently opened a second shop in Cullman’s Warehouse District, took silver in the next category up, as well as winning the ARA’s Customers’ Choice Award in a social media contest.

Annette Harris, Rumors Deli

Annette Harris, owner and president of Rumors Deli Inc. in Cullman, is now a two-time Alabama Retailer of the Year. Tuesday, Harris received the bronze award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category during the Alabama Retail Day awards luncheon. Rumors Deli was one of 13 retail businesses honored as Retailers of the Year. This year’s winners came from a pool of almost 100 nominees.

“I love what I do. And I love watching people enjoy the food that we fix,” said Harris. Rumors Deli is a local favorite, famous for its steamed sandwiches with names like “The Tattletale,” “Mouth of the South” and “The Hearsay,” it also offers a variety of salads, wraps, paninis, desserts and breakfast items.

Harris’ infectious passion for her restaurant, community, employees and community was noted by the 2018 Retailer of the Year judges. “You can feel the enthusiasm Annette brings to her business,” said one of the judges. “She is excited about everything that has to do with Rumors and her hometown of Cullman.”

Rumors Deli, which has been in business for 18 years, moved to a new location in Cullman in April of this year. The judges noted that the successful move to a renovated location was impressive, including the addition of new menu items, a pick-up window, added parking, expanded seating, venue rentals and retail offerings.

Cindy Barton, a customer and former employee who nominated Harris for the award, said, “Rumors has the friendliest staff; they make you feel at home. Annette is such a positive person and always has a huge smile on her face.”

Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce President Leah Bolin, who recommended Harris for the award, said, “I have seen her with her employees. It’s not just about providing a job. It’s about investing in their lives and investing in the community. Whatever the calling, Annette is always willing to step up and do her part. Not just as a business owner, but as a citizen of the community.”

In a personal note to The Tribune, Harris said, “I didn’t do this alone.  I have a great team of employees that work alongside me. I also have great support from my friends and family as well as the community and without all those people, none of this would be possible.”

See the full report at and category video at

Shannon and Dustin Beaty, Lavish Boutique

Shannon and Dustin Beaty pray before they make major life decisions, including business decisions.

One answered prayer began as a corner boutique in a pharmacy and has grown into two free-standing boutiques, one with an 800-square-foot coffee bar inside. Shannon Beaty says, “It was all in God’s perfect plan.”

Lavish Boutique began in July 2012 with Shannon selling game-day clothes in Hospital Discount Pharmacy, her husband’s pharmacy in downtown Jasper. Eleven months later, the boutique had a place of its own next door to the pharmacy. By the fall of 2016, the store had expanded again and added a coffee bar. On August 15, the couple opened a second Lavish Boutique in the warehouse district of Cullman. They also operate an online store at

“There is so much heart and passion in this business,” the Alabama Retailer of the Year judges said about the Beatys and Lavish Boutique and Coffee Bar, which earned the title of Alabama’s 2018 Silver Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. The Alabama Retail Association on Tuesday honored the couple at its Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham. Carr, Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, Slappey Communications and the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business were the luncheon sponsors.

“When people come in this door, it is important that they feel loved, inspired and encouraged,” Shannon said during an interview at her Jasper flagship store. She said she and her staff “are able to take the love that we share and bring it to the people who walk through the doors, so that they feel that energy radiating from us.”

Customers reciprocate that love to Lavish Boutique and Coffee Bar, which was also recognized as the Alabama Retailer of the Year Customers’ Choice Award winner for 2018. Among the 54 Alabama Retailer of the Year entries, the women’s clothing and accessory store garnered the most votes between June 27 and July 11 in a Facebook contest. The store received 3,112 of 23,609 votes cast.

“How can you top retail therapy with a coffee fix?” asked one customer. “I know, you can’t! Very cute boutique clothing, I always come out with quality clothes and get compliments on them everywhere I go!”

Mike Putman, executive director of Main Street Jasper, who nominated the Beatys, said of the couple, “They are more than outstanding retailers, they are friends.”

Dustin Beaty told The Tribune, “We’ve been so blessed to have our store in Jasper over the last five or six years; and then to be welcomed in the Cullman community over the last two months like we’ve been welcomed, has just been nothing short of a blessing.  We’re so excited to be a part of two wonderful communities, and just can’t wait to see what the future holds for us there in Cullman.”

See the full report at and category video at

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