Mud Pie is grateful for those who have stood behind us over the years; our 16,000 retailers. They continue to take pride in the brand as they display Mud Pie throughout their stores. We continue our initiative to spotlight those who have been the back bone of Mud Pie for all these years.
For this May’s Retailer Spotlight, let’s welcome Hays of Arkansas, and give them a big thank you, as they just opened their third store, and a Prestige Level Mud Pie boutique, in November.
While interviewing Tammy Hays, wife to Monte Hays and owner of Hays in Arkansas, the Mud Pie team felt a sense of comfort and true compassion fall over them. Within seconds of speaking, Tammy provided us with an instant companionship. Her soft, welcoming voice and kind words are parallel to the atmosphere you’ll find in Hays stores, where it’s all about the customers. And that attitude may be the very reason why they have had so much success – opening three stores since 1982. Did we mention two of the three stores are over 30,000 sq. ft.? (And we think our Mud Pie showroom is big!)
God is first in their minds, just slightly ahead of their customer’s. While they have reasons to be boastful of the family business they have built, they give Him all of the credit. Religion has led this family to a successful business where customers are greeted with wide arms and smiling faces.
So sit back and get ready to have your heart filled.
What was the inspiration that led to Hays? Monte and his brother, Terry, knew that their plans after school involved one thing: working for themselves. The two set out on a retail mission and in 1982, they opened the first Hays in Judsonia, AR, a town with a population of 2,000. The small 3,000 sq. ft. small space began carrying clothes and boots, but eventually grew, pushing the brothers to a new space where they would also sell furniture.
Success continued to pour in, allowing them to open a second Hays location in 2004 in Searcy, AR. With this new 7,500 sq. ft. store, they put more of an emphasis on fashion, but kept the same laid back feel. BY 2009, they had outgrown that space and moved to a 30,000 sq. ft. building.
The brother’s mission to work for themselves paid off again in November 2015, when they opened their third, and biggest space, in Jonesboro, AR. After a few years of searching for real estate, the family landed an old 55,000 sq. ft. Coca-Cola Plant. It is a historic landmark that the town didn’t want to see go, and Hays listened to the community by embracing the vintage space. Walking around, you will find three Coca-Cola branded Volkswagens throughout, all displaying product in an eye-catching way. The history was preserved even further by showcasing Coca-Cola items that were left behind.
And surprisingly, although Jonesboro is much larger than Searcy, the traffic is equally as busy.
How many employees does Hay’s have? When the first location opened in Judsonia, Tammy says that Hays employees included “my husband, his brother and about three or four others.” Now across the three stores, Hays houses 165 full-time employees. Those numbers increase during their busiest time of the year – the holidays. Hays brings in temporary employees due to high traffic, and you can find a total of 240 employees throughout November and December.
Describe the feel of Hay’s. Hays has become a “destination shopping location.” It is an Arkansas favorite, where travelers of all kinds know they must stop when passing through. And the family business constantly greets those who are back for a hometown visit, but who always work a trip to Hays into their plans.
When you walk into any of the three Hays locations, your ears are greeted with the sounds of Christian music; except during Christmas, when they will put you in the spirit with holiday tunes. This goes hand-in-hand with the family’s belief that God is ultimately the owner of Hays. The store is a gift from Him.
Each store has its own unique atmosphere, but all three keep the same country feel and similar products throughout. The main difference is that the Judsonia store has more of an emphasis on hunting, while fashion is the biggest draw in both the Searcy and Jonesboro locations. However, every store is a place for both men and women. It’s an environment where “husband and wife go in to shop and each leave happy.”
The one thing you can find in every location (and on backs all around the state) is the branded Hays t-shirt with the phrase “Work, Hunt, & Play,” a saying they strongly believe in.
Tell us about your community involvement. Hays stores donate to local charities and local kids sports teams all throughout the year. They are highly involved in their church community, where they sponsor children for summer camp.
Hays is working on a heartwarming shoe program. Can you tell us more about that? Hays is currently creating a program that “gives shoes to underprivileged children.” The thought is that with every purchase of a pair of shoes during the summer months, Hays will put a percentage of profits towards purchasing a new pair of shoes for a child in need. At the end of the season, Hays will visit local schools and hand-deliver the new shoes to underprivileged children. The program is still in the works, but Mud Pie is eager to hear how it grows!
What is a favorite Mud Pie item? Tammy hit home with this one. While growing up, “my grandmother had a wooden spoon and fork hanging on her kitchen wall.” Her favorite Mud Pie piece translates from that. It is the silver spoon and fork wall decoration, which she now has hanging in her kitchen. She loves being able to associate it with a childhood memory.
Top selling Mud Pie collections? Hays is a Prestige level Mud Pie account, meaning that they have a very healthy representation of Mud Pie, displayed together in their store in one branded statement. Think a “store within a store.” With that, it is a toss-up between infant clothes and fashion as their top selling category. Hays is a community brand, where many come for their baby registries. Tammy tells us that Mud Pie pieces make up a large part of those.
What ignites your passion for retail? Tammy preached that customer interaction ignites her. She truly enjoys getting to know Hays customers and ultimately serve their needs. For Hays, it’s beyond making a purchase, but more about interacting with the people and seeing them leave satisfied. And we have no doubts that you will be treated with excellent service throughout your shopping experience at Hays.
Aside from happy customers, the ever changing trends ignite her passion for retail. Tammy keeps up with trends through social media and attending market shows. This season she is all about the floral prints. (Mud Pie agrees!)
What is your escape when you want to create new visions for your store? For Tammy and her husband “retail is part of life.” Inspiration comes from the visual aspects they see in everyday places, even their own store. Whether they are walking around town, traveling or attending market, they are constantly creating and brainstorming.
“I like to pay attention to what drives people,” Tammy says. It’s all about the details and paying attention to what individuals buy.
What is your go-to item in your own closet? Her go to item is a denim shirt, like Mud Pie’s chambray shirt. It is one of those items that Tammy thinks is perfect on its own, or perfect when paired with other statement pieces. Not to mention, it is timeless and continues to come back every season.
Your favorite style tip? Tammy always tells customers that things can “be dressed up or dress down depending on the accessory.” We take her advice to heart. She explains to customers how any piece can change based on how you accessorize it. Accessories really do make an outfit.
Dream vacation? Tammy and Monte love to travel. They recently returned from a cruise that they went on for their daughter’s Spring Break. Hawaii has always been a dream of theirs.
What is your dream job? Before Tammy fell in love with retail, she grew up dreaming of working in real estate. She worked as a closing agent prior to retail!