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New Year, New You!

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Weekly blog from the N.C. Retail Merchants Association
New Year, New You!
Time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going

Posted By Andy Ellen
Without fail the coming of a new year brings about desires to make changes, discard old ways of doing things, and adopt better habits both personally and professionally. As we gathered around the table last Monday for our first staff meeting of the New Year, I asked each person on the NCRMA team to share with me one resolution they had made. [You’ll find responses below.] I was pleased and proud to learn of their intentions, and I have faith that they will make good on these intentions.

At NCRMA, we know that for the retail industry January is a little bit like recovering from a marathon. You’ve been running on adrenaline for the last six weeks, working long hours to maximize every sale that comes into your store. And, even if your job is not behind the sales counter, we understand how all of the cogs (merchandising, marketing, accounting, inventory management, loss prevention, logistics, distribution, etc.) have to be working in proper order for the holiday season to be a success.

My hope is that you are able to take some time this month to take stock of your 2015. Take a look back and determine what worked for your store and be honest about what may need improving in 2016. All too often, we see our members react to situations rather than plan for them. If I could offer one resolution for you this year, it would be to build more time into your day to plan, to ask questions, to seek new information on old ways of doing things.

NCRMA’s Resolutions – the Year of the Member

At Monday’s staff meeting, I told the NCRMA team that this is the Year of the Member. The Association exists by and for you – North Carolina’s retail community. Everything we do this year will be with you – the member – in mind.

And as far as the Association goes, we’ve done a little self-reflection ourselves. Most notably, in 2016 you will see that the monthly NCRMA Retailer newsletter will now expand to a 16-page magazine format and will be distributed quarterly. Many of you have asked for this to be mailed hard copy to you and we are happy to oblige. Additionally, we will be blogging (and, yes, this is the first one). You can expect to receive a weekly blog post written by someone on staff or one of our trusted Allied members on a subject of interest for retail. Help us keep you at the center and provide feedback on these or any other service we provide.

Another new program in the works is a one-day training event that will take place four times in four different locations around the state and will focus on tangible, actionable and practical information that you will be able to put into practice right away on subjects as diverse as sales and marketing, cash flow and inventory, cybersecurity and social media. We know it’s hard to leave your store, so our goal is to bring the professional development offering within a 60-mile radius of your business.

What’s more, we will be formally announcing this in a few weeks but are pleased to tell you that we have created a new division within the Retail Consumer Alliance Foundation (RCA) called the Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance (CORCA) that will be made up of law enforcement and retail loss prevention professionals in both North and South Carolina. The first official meeting was held in early December where officers were elected. This new organization was formed so that retailers and law enforcement can work together to provide consumer education and awareness around the issues associated with retail crime, provide educational resources to industry loss prevention and law enforcement, and utilize a powerful tool in the form of a searchable websitewith mapping capabilities that allows retailers and law enforcement to communicate about criminal activity impacting businesses on a real-time basis to identify offenders and resolve cases. In fact, the Alliance solved one crime ring case in the first week!

Lastly, I want to offer our team’s professional services up to you! In addition to the work we do every day to make sure that North Carolina’s legal and regulatory environment are ripe for retail success, we also just started offering members a free consultation on sales, marketing, PR, social media, etc.

We know you have questions, and with over a hundred years of experience and a deep bench of trusted allied partners, we also know how to help or who to call to get you the answers to your questions. So as you take stock of where you’ve been and where you want to go, keep NCRMA top of mind. We’re here to help you get there.

Happy New Year!
Andy Ellen
President and General Counsel
NC Retail Merchants Association


NCRMA Staff New Year’s Resolutions:

Todd Baitsholts, CFO:
“Healthier lifestyle (aka eat less and exercise more!)”

Christie Burris, Senior Director of Communications:
“A minimum of 20 minutes of exercise each day.”

Jill Crawford, Financial Administrator:
“Spend more time with my elderly mom.”

Andy Ellen, President and General Counsel:
“Appreciate the smaller things in life and value our members more.”

Jessica Edwin, Association Management Coordinator:

“Bring my lunch and tuck that saved money away!”

Jeanne Eury, Director of Member Services:

“Blog more.”

Brenna Favara, CFIC Assistant Director:
“To check some adventures off of my bucket list.”

Lindsey Kueffner, CFIC Executive Director:
“Drink more water, get more sleep, and read!”

Lexi Morgan, NC Assistant Director of Government Relations:
“Learn to let things go!”

Peg Pirrotta, First Benefits Insurance Mutual Inc. Director of Agency Services:
“To purge and re-organize.”

Elizabeth Robinson, NC Senior Director of Government Relations:
“Appreciating each day for the time and experience it brings.”

Christie Spain, First Benefits Insurance Mutual Inc. Underwriter:
“To get my house unpacked, organized and de-cluttered!” 

Stephanie Stafford, Graphic Designer:
“Purge my house of unnecessary things and spend more quality time with my kids.”

Richard Suddarth, First Benefits Insurance Mutual Inc. VP of Marketing:
“Drop some pounds!!!”

Lisa Sweatman, SC Director of Government Relations:
Appreciate the value of living another day to be my best for myself and my family & friends!”

Amanda Wujcik, Director of Events and Social Media:
“Focus on my health & volunteer more.”