June 16, 2011, 8:07 PM

IRCE 2011 Report: Hot wheels!

An e-retail rookie arrives at IRCE seeking knowledge and leaves with a luxury SUV.

Lead Photo

Kathy Saldana is congratulated by Jack Love, CEO of Vertical Web Media, organizer of IRCE.

Kathy Saldana, operations manager at e-retailer PatioShoppers.com, came to the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition for the first time this week in search of a crash course on e-commerce. After filling two notebooks with ideas from conference sessions and visiting vendors on the exhibit floor to see how their tools might help PatioShoppers.com, she left with something more: a 2011 Lincoln MKX sport utility vehicle.

Saldana submitted her completed Win-the-Wheels contest form at the Internet Retailer booth on the exhibit floor after visiting the booths of 40 participating exhibitors. She was having lunch in the exhibit hall with a co-worker when she heard her name called as the winner. “I was shocked,” she says. “I came here, I learned all this and I’m leaving with all this.”

It was 18 months ago when Saldana joined PatioShoppers.com, an online retailer of outdoor furniture and related items. It is her first time working for an e-retailer. She says she enjoys working in e-retail and more especially for the rapidly growing PatioShoppers.com, which grew from seven employees when she joined to 17 now. Prior to joining PatioShoppers.com, Saldana served for 12 years with the U.S. Marine Corps. She’s also held sales positions in the vitamin and supplement industry. She says her job at PatioShoppers.com, where one of her main responsibilities is to find and evaluate vendors that can help the business grow, is the “best job I ever had.” And winning a luxury car at her first e-commerce conference represents a nice bonus.

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