Mary L. Villa
Class of 2017
Mary L. Villa was born on May 5, 1960, in Spokane. Growing up with her six siblings, Donald, Michael, Richard, Dianna, Anita and Thomas, she says her parents Shirley and Cornelius Bird, had to be creative – they couldn’t just go out and buy what they wanted.
Her father would spend time at the library researching his latest desire and the next thing they knew, the family had a homemade color TV.
Mary’s interest in merchandising started in high school when she was chosen to be one of a 30-member class of the Distributive Education Clubs of America, an organization that prepares leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality, management and other business areas.
In 1978, Mary placed First in the State of Washington for an industry manual on jewelry and went on to compete in the National’s in Washington, DC.
After graduating from west Valley High School, Mary taught gymnastics and worked as a computer operator before starting as a vacation relief employee for URM Stores, Inc. in 1983, for $4.50 per hour. within one year Mary was developing her skills in purchasing as the new General Merchandise Buyer Assistant.
Moving on to Candy Buyer and Show Coordinator, Mary was involved almost from the beginning with URM’s show program. The company’s first candy show was in 1986, and generated $48,000. Today it generates in excess of $6.5 million in candy sales. Mary was able to work with URM’s IT Department to help develop a streamlined program to setup and market shows, which has been continually updated to include scanning of orders, downloading preloaded item information and writing automated purchase orders.
In 2001, Mary was promoted to Department Manager for Candy, General Merchandise, and Health and Beauty Care where she continued to buy, do category reviews on everyday and seasonal candy, coordinate shows, and manage the General Merchandise and Health and Beauty Care Procurement Department. Mary is currently Manager Non-Foods Procurement.
She also played a key role in developing the Topco/western Family Candy Consortium, where URM is one of five warehouses that have joined to collectively build programs with key candy vendors.
Mary was a member of Executive women International for five years as well as women Helping women. She is currently an active fundraiser for Junior Achievement of Washington and has supported the Spokane Christmas Bureau since 2011.
Mary married Gordon in 1986, in Post Falls, ID, and they have two children, Marlo and Nicole and two grandchildren, Harper and Campbell. In her spare time, Mary loves to go camping, mushrooming and fishing.