Another holiday season, another year. Wow, 2015 has been a whirlwind! The staff of Retail Alliance is in the final stages of reviewing 2015 and planning for 2016. Looking back, we can take stock in several initiatives that we hope have impacted our members positively.

The Retail Breakfast Club has had two very successful years so far with great speakers and attendance, offering networking, full breakfast and a Bloody Mary to boot. Over the course of seven Breakfast Club forums in 2015 (February was canceled due to inclement weather), we had over 500 attendees. The surveys rated each and every breakfast club with either a grade of four or five overall. 2016 appears to be an exciting year with some great speakers already booked, so plan to start your day with us on the 4th Thursday of the month!

Our annual Retailer of the Year (ROTY) awards was another record breaking event in 2015 with over 200 attendees getting together to celebrate the best in Retail at the historical Wells Theater. Our overall winner and super hero, Fairfield Flowers, was a deserving recipient of 2015’s award that recognizes exceptional retailing. Our Lifetime Achievement winner with over 50 years in business, Goodman & Sons, hit the mark as a well-known jeweler operating on the Peninsula that specializes in superb customer service with high quality jewelry. This year’s venue has yet to be chosen, however, mark your calendars for May 19th and get your nominations in now!

Our Buy Local initiative, LOVEVA, kicked off with a great advertising campaign in late 2014 and continued to build throughout 2015 with over 23,000 transactions, 7500 users and 381 participating members! Katherine Seibt, our LOVEVA Coordinator, is preparing to make 2016 even larger. Event participation, dual levels of membership, increase of business participation, double digit increase in downloads, dedicated website and an energized steering committee will help grow LOVEVA to be the premier buy local first campaign found anywhere in the country. Metrics are an important part of the program and LOVEVA keeps track of all transactions occurring in your store.

Watch out for our brand new educational launch in January; STRIVE – Lunch & Learn. STRIVE will be a monthly webinar hosted by subject matter experts that will tackle topics that are unique to retailers. Joy Burton, our Events Coordinator, is lining up the topics and speakers for the next 12 months. This additional educational initiative can be accessed in the comfort of your store or anywhere you choose. Check out the STRIVE webinars scheduled so far in this issue of Retail Angles.

I can’t leave out legislation, which is so critical to small businesses. Kate Baker and consultant Margaret Ballard work diligently on your behalf to protect your interests on the local, state and federal levels. Retail Alliance and our Legislative arm, the Virginia Retail Federation, fight hard to make sure your business is protected when it comes to issues such as Accelerated Sales Tax, the Felony Threshold for Larceny, Minimum Wage, Plastic Bag Ban/Tax, and E-Fairness to name a few.

In closing, please stay engaged and reach out to us as we strive to be your trusted resource! On behalf of our team, we wish you all the best for 2016!