Baltimore, MD – The Southern warmth overflowed with the champagne this year when we toasted Susie Farbin and Diana Hicks, owners of MaMa Jean’s Natural Market, our Retailer of the Year, on the floor of Expo East.

The store owners were joined by Susie’s son Jeff Norman, who is the third generation of the family in the business.

Hicks said she was stunned when the email first came in from WholeFoods Magazine advising that MaMa Jean’s was a finalist and requesting some additional information. The first thought was that it was a prank.

The women said they’ll rotate the plaque between their four locations in Springfield, MO, to share the love with their staff and customers.

While lingering after the guests had departed, Farbin gave us one of her Pro Tips. To help her customers, she tried out a different diet each month for 30 days so she could give them personal advice on products, recipes and how to get over the humps.

Raw food was the hardest of them all, said Farbin, because it seemed like she was “always cooking.”

Next year we’re moving our Retailer of the Year award ceremony to Orlando, FL, as part of the SOHO EXPO put on by SENPA.