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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

Dream BIG Class of 2014

Traci Merrick

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Traci Merrick

Traci Merrick, general manager at Crate and Barrel, is pursuing an MBA from University of Phoenix.

Giving the world a little more “Sparkle and Shine”

No one who ever meets Traci Merrick in the Crate and Barrel store she manages is surprised when they learn that she was once a cheerleader. She’s driven, she’s focused and she’s effervescent in personality. She exhibits what she and her cheerleading squad called “Sparkle and Shine,” an idea that has become about much more than showing a big smile and bubbly energy.

“As I grew up, I learned that ‘Sparkle and Shine,’ while seemingly shallow, applied to a great deal more than simple outward appearances,” she says. “It’s a positive approach to life, the focused energy on personal expectations, group achievement and basic human-to-human interactions.”

It’s my job to connect with people in a way that is meaningful, and coach my managers and associates to do the same.
Traci Merrick

Today, “Sparkle and Shine” remains Traci’s personal mantra. It has helped propel her to a successful career in retail that includes her current position as general manager of Crate and Barrel’s flagship store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. And that high-profile location provides the perfect venue for her positive mindset. “Every day, I have the amazing fortune to spend my hours in an incredible, visually inspiring environment, surrounded by beautiful products, amazing associates and downright giddy customers.”

As a Dream BIG scholarship recipient, Traci is poised to move to even greater opportunities. She believes that an MBA in Project Management from University of Phoenix will strengthen her skills as a leader and give her many more opportunities to positively impact her store and Crate and Barrel as a whole. She looks forward to mentoring sales and customer experience teams and gaining the business foundation needed to understand and navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape.

“It’s my job to connect with people in a way that is meaningful, and coach my managers and associates to do the same,” she says. “When we get all of our strengths working in unison and a mutual investment between our customers and ourselves, that’s when we Sparkle and Shine!”


The National Retail Federation collaborates with University of Phoenix to offer the Dream BIG Scholarship to people who work in retail. This year, 20 recipients received full-tuition scholarships to help them pursue their big dreams. Meet the Class of 2014 and learn more about the Dream BIG Scholarship.