© Windsor Bay Communications Inc. 2017
WHEN AMANDA BELL STARTS TALKING ABOUT her job, you know there was no doubt she was a shoe-in for the newly established Retail Sales Professional Awards (RSPA). Her energy truly is electric, and her passion for her profession is palpable.
A sales associate working on the floor at Marshall’s Home Living in Kelowna, British Columbia, Bell was one of first four recipients of the 2017 edition of the RSPA, of which added value goods and service provider Zucora is the primary sponsor. Three other industry insiders also actively support the program, including Home Goods Online; the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance (CHFA), the Toronto-based furniture trade group; and, the Canadian Furniture Show (CFS), this country’s only national furniture trade event.
Since the award isn’t an easy one to win – salespeople across Canada are nominated for the honour by their managers or peers – locking one down is impressive.
“I was very honoured, it was a surprise,” Bell says. “The owner of my store didn’t tell me he had [nominated me], so when I received a call, I was excited. I had no idea it was coming, I didn’t even know what the award was.”
I was looking forward to the whole event and getting to experience all that. When you work hard, it just feels good to get some special recognition like that.
Bell and the three other winners were honoured at the recent Canadian Home Furnishings Awards gala. She was recognised by the industry and honoured by her manager James Marshall because she is “in tune with what is going on in the industry and a self-starter who is always eager to learn about new products and services.”
Bell’s job is unique because she isn’t just walking clients through a sale; she’s lending them her vision and helping them craft and create their living space. In Marshall’s words, Bell’s clientele list is broad and always satisfied with how she transforms their homes–whether those homes are a brand new builds or a full blown renovations.
Bell, a nine year veteran of Marshall’s Home Living, says the recognition felt incredible.
“I felt really happy and excited when I won,” she says. “I was so looking forward to the whole event and getting to experience all that. It was so nice. When you work hard, it just feels good to get some special recognition like that.”
Although she’s always worked in sales, her role in the company has morphed to better encompass her experience (and talent) as a bona fide interior designer. Her long-term tenure with the store (she’s been with Marshalls almost since its inception) has also allowed her to give back by passing knowledge and experience onto colleagues.
“I’m very proud to say I’ve, for the last several years, surpassed the million dollar mark in sales. Last year was $1.4 million,” she says. “I think I have some qualities that have allowed me to excel at sales. I’m a people person, I’m outgoing, I try to be very engaging and very real and genuine.”
Bell is also knowledgeable about products and that knowledge, she says, puts people at ease. “I’m trying to do my best for my clients and that really resonates with people. I’m enthusiastic and excited for them.”
As far as career highlights go, Bell says winning a bid on and decorating high-end units in an upscale Kelowna development was an incredible opportunity.
“Last year, I bid on and got 18 multi-million dollar units that I furnished from top to bottom,” she says. “ I set up 18 units with my crew. It was incredible and fun.”
The development, called Lakeshore Living at Manteo, functions as both a residential and resort property and Bell and her team even got to work directly with one purchaser to design their unit to their liking.
For Bell, homes and decor have always been fascinating and her early beginnings in real estate allowed her to segue into a sales position.
“I actually started my career as youngest licensed realtor in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was 21,” she says. “I made the leap to Kelowna. My son was young, so I didn’t want to put all the [real estate] time in, and I always loved houses and design and furniture. I got the opportunity to work in a sales capacity and then it grew and built from there.”
Outside of work, Bell likes to keep active and spend time with her family, including her now 22-year-old son.
“I’m a big family person. I love to go biking and boating. I love to do things with my rottweiler fur baby and travel.”
When it comes to work, Bell says she’s happy to be working in a store where no two days are the same. “We are unique, we are individually owned and operated and there is only one of us. We’ve turned into a really unique, trendsetting store that people come to. I want to keep growing and working on big projects, I don’t like to be stagnant.”
Ashley Newport is Contributing Editor to Home Goods Online. This article first appears in the Fall 2017 edition of the HGO Merchandiser and is reproduced here with permission.