During the 2023 NGA Show, running Feb. 26-28 in Las Vegas, Women Grocers of America (WGA) presented its Woman of the Year Award to Gwen Christon, owner and operator of Isom IGA, in Isom, Ky. The award is given annually to a female grocer who shows strong leadership, a passion for the grocery industry and a commitment to her community.
“Gwen’s incredible journey began in 1973, when she began working at Isom IGA,” said Kristin Popp, WGA president and EVP at Jamesville, Wis.-based Woodman’s Markets. “She then purchased the store from previous owners in 1998, ensuring that the only grocery store in a 12-mile radius stayed in capable hands. Last summer, Gwen faced one of her greatest challenges as severe floodwaters destroyed her store and much of the surrounding community. Through her perseverance, determination and the strong community connections she had made throughout her career, the store is on track to open later this year.”
Added Popp: “Gwen is truly an inspiration to women and young girls everywhere. I congratulate her on receiving this award and look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the years to come.”
Additionally, during the pandemic, Christon, who was IGA Retailer of the Year in 2007, played a key role in feeding local children, teaming with a commercial kitchen to provide thousands of food boxes to neighbors in need. Christon also serves on a committee to recruit and retain teachers, custodians and other open roles.
“Gwen’s journey shows why local independent grocery stores are a linchpin for Americans,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “I’m inspired by Gwen’s resilience and can’t wait to see Isom IGA bounce back over the next few years.”
Isom IGA was also named one of Progressive Grocer’s Outstanding Independents in 2023.