Trudy Trombley, owner of The Boutique at Stowe Mercantile.

Courtesy photo

Trudy Trombley, owner of The Boutique in Stowe, has been named America’s Retail Champion of the Year by the National Retail Federation.

Every year, up to 50 small United States retailers are invited on a complimentary trip to Washington, D.C., for the Retail Advocates Summit, rallying businesses that fight for the issues critical to a thriving industry.

Trombley was one of the advocates invited to attend the summit from July 17 to 19, and didn’t know she would be winning an award. But when she was called up on stage as one of five finalists, Trombley was proud of herself.

Then, the event became emotional, as all of her work had paid off.

Trombley was able to hear about all of the great things the other four businesses had accomplished and had never felt like she’d done much, but hearing what they had to say about her gave Trombley goose bumps.

“When I got up there, I felt like I deserved to be there. It made me feel like I had made a difference,” she said.

The retail federation chose the winner out of the five finalists, and she didn’t hear her name called, but then saw her face on the screens.

“Trudy is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to representing small retail businesses in Vermont,” Erin Sigrist, president of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, said. “Her drive and passion are contagious, and she very much deserves this national recognition.”

Over the years, Trombley has spent countless hours in Montpelier, lobbying for laws she believes will help break down barriers for people seeking employment.

While she says it’s been difficult to speak out on issues that not all of her neighbors agree with, she always speaks from the heart, and treats her employees as family.

Trombley said she has been verbally attacked outside committee rooms for her opinions, but is still willing to fight for what she believes in.

This year, Trombley didn’t testify in front of the Vermont House or Senate at all, but sat in on a number of committees to hear other viewpoints and worries from across the state.

She says Vermonters are lucky, because they are able to just walk into the Statehouse, and legislators are often willing to talk with constituents in the hallway, the cafeteria, or on the streets.

“My dad always said, if you want to make a difference, you have to be heard,” Trombley said.

She hopes to be able to testify in Washington eventually, and to make a bigger impact on the people around her.

“Trudy is a strong grassroots advocate and a leader in the retail industry who ensures that retail’s voice is heard on a wide range of policy discussions,” said Matthew Shay, the retail federation’s president and CEO. “By being involved at all levels of government, she helps advance the public policy agenda for retailers, their employees and customers in her community.”

The other four finalists for the award were Amber Gustafson of Amber’s Designs Fine Jewelry in Katy, Texas; Ken Keiran of Union Farm Equipment in Union, Maine; Jeff Erb of Saneholtz-McKarnsbin in Montpelier, Ohio; and Bill Golden of Golden Shoes in Traverse, Mich. Also nominated for the award was Marc Sherman, Trombley’s partner and owner of Stowe Mercantile in Stowe.