Retail Alliance Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the educational and charitable efforts of existing and aspiring business owners.  Serving the interests of local retailers in Hampton Roads since 2013, the Foundation is a part of the Retail Alliance (RA) founded in 1903.


Through our Center for Retail Excellence (CRE), the Foundation supports existing and aspiring business owners through practical education and training with a theoretical base that is timely, accessible, and cost-effective and mentoring to aid in business success. The Center for Retail Excellence strives to fill the competency gap in retail operations, equipping participants with the education and skills to overcome the challenges inherent in starting or advancing their careers in the retail industry. The mission of the CRE is to be the premier source for retail education and support throughout Southeast Virginia.


The CRE’s flagship program is the Certificate in Retail Operations (CROps). This certificate covers seven areas essential to successful retailing and culminates in the development of a workable business plan. Each essential area comprises a six-week long class, and the timeline for completion is less than a year, depending on individual exit and re-entry requirements. Classes are held using a hybrid format – part online and part face-to-face. Included in the training is the opportunity to defend one’s newly created business plan – Minnow Bucket – before a panel of judges comprised of community retail and business leaders.

Minnow Bucket color logoMinnow Bucket

The Minnow Bucket is an educational opportunity for aspiring and existing business owners to present their business plans to a small group of outside experts for review and feedback.  For those participating in the CROps program, it is the culminating assignment for successful completion of the course of study.

Minnow Bucket events are held with three objectives in mind:

  1. To provide participants the opportunity for an outside, objective evaluation of their business and the premise(s) on which they plan to build them.
  2. To enable participants to participate in a “dry run” of presenting their business plans as they would in the “real world.”
  3. To give specific feedback that will be helpful to participants in adjusting or modifying their business plans

Event details:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Percolator – Granby Campus
Level 3, 259 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

Click here to register


There are 10 students completing the Norfolk cohort of CROps on September 11, 2019. The students will be presenting their business plans as their final assignment to achieve their Certificate in Retail Operations.

Meet our students …

Event details:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Percolator – Granby Campus
Level 3, 259 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

Click here to register


5.00 pm – Mix ‘n Mingle (light refreshments)

5.15 pm – Entrepreneurs present their business plan in front of four panelists and receive feedback

6.15 pm – Break

6.30 pm – Entrepreneurs present their business plan in front of four panelists and receive feedback

7.30 pm – Presentation of certificates and networking

8.00 pm – Completion of event


If you would like to support a family member or friend who is presenting, we’d love for you to join us. Or if you would like to support and encourage entrepreneurship in our region, you are more than welcome too. The tickets are free but we would like people to register so we can make sure we have enough seating, food and beverages.

Please register by clicking here.


The Minnow Bucket could not be held without the generosity of sponsors. Sponsorship contributions enable us to cover the cost of the event.

Thank you to the following sponsors!

Jazzy Sweets & Tasty Treats

Any donations of food and beverages are much appreciated (monetary donations are welcome). In particular we are in need of:

• Heavy and light hors d’oeuvres
• Salads & sandwiches
• Desserts
• Non-alcoholic drinks
• Wine & beer

Benefits of Sponsorship

If you are interested in sponsoring our Minnow Bucket with food or beverages, please complete the following details and submit. We appreciate your support!

Heavy and light hors d’oeuvresSalads & sandwichesDessertsNon-alcoholic drinksWine & beerMonetary amount

Please contact Kylie Ross Sibert at (757) 455 9323 or email with any questions.


Phil Scotti headshot

Philip M. Scotti
Philip Michael Fashion for Men

Sean Washington headshotSean Washington
Senior Business Development Manager
The City of Norfolk – Department of Economic Development

Robin Gregory headshotRobin Witt Gregory
Vice President, Business Banker
Dollar Bank

Ediya Brookins headshot

Ediya Brookins

Tykesha Cherry headshot

Tykesha Cherry

Jennifer Harris headshot

Jennifer Harris

Ciara Matthews headshot

Ciara (Jacqueline) Matthews

Michael Merritt headshot

Michael Merritt

Karin Meza Gallegos headshot

Karin Meza Gallegos

Ivoress Morris headshot

Ivoress Morris

Melinda Harris headshot

Melinda Harris