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Outstanding Specialty Retailer
Star Status

Regina Molaro

James Gilland, president of Tricked Out Accessories, earns the prestigious "Outstanding Retailer of the Year" title.

It takes dedication, sharp business skills, and talent to be inducted into the Specialty Retail Hall of Fame. Just ask James Gilland, president of Tricked Out Accessories—a company that specializes in accessories for cell phones and hand held devices.

Gilland, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame as "Outstanding Retailer of the Year," exhibits unrivaled leadership skills and professionalism. Renowned for his positive attitude, uncompromising work ethic and in-depth understanding of operating a customer-focused business, Gilland certainly has what it takes to soar to the top.

Gilland's successful rise can be tracked from Midland, Texas to Utah and Hawaii. After temporarily dropping out of high school, he worked as a telemarketer at a photography studio. His sales abilities soon got him promoted to manager. With some work experience and management skills behind him, he went on to work as a sales representative for a national jewelry company. A two-year stint teaching Spanish for his church then brought him to New Jersey.

Upon returning home to Utah in 2001, the mobile phone industry was taking flight. At that time Gilland worked in management for a mobile accessory company. It was there that he began developing a vision of a "new and improved" company that would focus on product selection. This creative vision later materialized into Tricked Out Accessories, which got its name from a record label Gilland liked.

Specialty retail beginnings

In 2003, Gilland got a loan and opened a cart at the Newgate Mall in Ogden, Utah. Since Gilland already had previous mall experience, a cart seemed like a logical beginning. Six months after the launch of Tricked Out Accessories, a competitor offered to sell Gilland his cart, so he purchased that cart with profits from his first one. What began with one Utah-based cart soon blossomed into a thriving business that now has a total of 20 locations (carts and inline stores) in Utah and Hawaii. A professional dress code has helped build Tricked Out Accessories' professional image.

In addition to ongoing training for his dedicated staff, Gilland also dedicates time to educating himself via courses, seminar videos, audio books, and more. Since 2005, he's been holding monthly manager meetings and has never missed one. In fact, it was at one such meeting that Gilland learned of his induction into the Specialty Retail Hall of Fame. Colton Barton, general manager of operations in Hawaii, nominated Gilland for the honor.

Gilland learned of the award when Barton flew into town and surprised him during a manager meeting. "He walked in, interrupting with a phone call for me, on speaker phone. It was Debbie Lahti, Tradeshow Director for SPREE, who announced in front of all the managers that I had been selected for the award," says Gilland. "I was touched, shocked, and emotional—not only at the honor of receiving the award, but at the kind words and thoughtfulness of so many people."

Excellence in business standards

Respect and admiration are what prompted Barton to nominate Gilland for the recognition. Barton says he was impressed by the way Gilland has chosen to grow and manage his business by promoting standards of excellence, and by his dedication to professional management and ongoing training.

Since catching consumer interest is key, Gilland has also been investing in the design and building of custom RMU fixtures. At Hawaii's Ala Moana Center, Tricked Out Accessories has set a high standard in visual displays that some office staff have pointed out to other mall tenants as an example to emulate.

Gilland attributes his success to having high standards and an unyielding commitment to ongoing improvement. "I'm always looking for weaknesses because that shows an opportunity for progress. I also have some of the best trained and most talented staff who share the company vision," Gilland says.

Gilland points to excellent customer service and an eye on the long-term strategy, as ways to really excel. "I hope retailers will strive to uphold the long-term values of customer service and excellence," he says, "It's disappointing to see so many businesses with a short-term vision of high-pressure selling and misleading claims that are focused on temporary success, and not what is best for the customer." Regina Molaro is a freelance writer who covers retail, art and design, and fashion.