Susette Johnson, Hometeam Tabletop Buyer, Army and Air Force Exchange Service

The July 13, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 21st annual Impact Merchants special report. Housewares suppliers, representing the categories that HomeWorld covers, once again were asked to nominate buyers and merchandisers believed to have made a significant impact during the past year.

The selection of the Impact Merchant winners is not intended as a definitive list of the best merchants in housewares retailing. Votes went to several more merchandisers than those featured. This year’s honorees represent buyers in given categories that received the majority of votes by vendors polled.

Voters were asked to give added weight to merchandising creativity, trend and marketing astuteness, attention to detail, openness to risk, flexibility, relationship building and the ability to deliver a profitable program for both the vendors and retailer while providing value to consumers. One thing this year’s Impact Merchants share is a vote of respect by their vendors. In today’s unpredictable retail environment, that vote really counts.

Susette Johnson, Hometeam Tabletop Buyer, Dinnerware, Stemware, Barware, Flatware, Cutlery, Kitchen Gadgets, Army and Air Force Exchange Service

With the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) for the last 12 years, Susette Johnson has been known to work to bring quality products to the U.S. military personnel through her industry knowledge as well as dedication to pricing and quality. That is why she has been named a 2020 Impact Merchant.

“She continues to fight the good fight in providing great products and value to our military personnel and their families,” said a vendor about Johnson.

AAFES is a Department of Defense sub-agency that has provided quality, tax-free retail services and merchandise to Active Duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees and their families. As Hometeam tabletop buyer for the association, Johnson is tasked with purchasing for the Army Air Force Exchanges around the world, having to keep an eye on both domestic and international trends, in which her attention to detail has helped aid in her success, said a vendor.

And, noted a manufacturer, her even-keeled and positive personality allows her to continue pushing forward regardless of the circumstances, but it is complemented by her deep industry knowledge that provides her with the ability to adapt plans if necessary.

“You have to love the military; they keep up the momentum regardless of what emergency and chaos occur,” the vendor said.

Johnson started at AAFES as an allocation and inventory analyst before becoming the tabletop buyer. Prior to her career at AAFES, she held positions at Zale Corporation as a merchandise analyst and Fossil as a senior planner. —Emily Cappiello

2020 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):

Jay Cunningham, T.J. Maxx/Marshalls

Adam Gregory, Target

Karen Rapier, Walmart

Elena Weckerle, Ulta Beauty

Ryan Yarnell, Meijer

Deb Danielson, Target

Sarah Dipietro, Macy’s

Jeff Branz, Wayfair

Taylor Martinez, Costco

Rachel Tsupros, Wayfair

Korey Reed, Walmart

Susette Johnson, AAFES

Becky Blake, Walmart

Gretchen Dexter, Everything Kitchens

David LeClair, Staples