FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2016
CONTACT: James Miller, Communications Director | (321)229-9266 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ruel Joyner of 24e.Deisgn in Savannah, Linda Lombardi or Phillips Furniture and Susan Costa of Hillsdale Furniture were selected as 2016 GRA Retailers of the Year

ATLANTA, GA – The Georgia Retail Association (GRA), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 50 years, is proud to recognize three Georgia business leaders for their contributions to the state’s retail industry and their communities. Ruel Joyner of 24e Furnishings in Savannah, Linda Lombardi of Phillips Furniture in Warner Robbins, and Susan Costa of Hillsdale Furniture were all selected for different Retailer of the Year awards. Lombardi and Costa were selected on behalf of the Georgia home Furnishings Association (GhFA), which is a division of GRA.

“As the voice of retailing in Georgia, we’re proud to recognize three industry leaders who have made a difference and serve as examples for what retailers do for this state,” said GRA President/CEO Randy Miller. “These winners are representative of the talented, passionate and hard working professionals that make retailing such a great industry to be a part of.”

This is the second year in a row that GRA has presented Retailer of the Year Awards, which recognize outstanding retailers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to their employees, customers and communities. This year’s winners were nominated by their peers and were carefully chosen by a selection committee based upon their outstanding commitment to not only their work and their industry also to their association.

Ruel Joyner | 24e. Design Furnishings – 2016 GRA RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Ruel Joyner is the owner and operator of 24e.Design furnishings located in the Historic District in Savannah. The offerings in 24e range from well-known brands to local artistry, and the store is a haven for the repurposed enthusiast. Ruel is a local community advocate who spends a great deal of his time and energy giving back, through his involvement with many downtown associations and small business groups, as well as supporting and donating to local charity events. Ruel Joyner is everything that a retailer should be: committed to his business, his customers and his community.

Linda Lombardi | Phillips Furniture – 2016 GHFA RETAILER OF THE YEAR
For over three decades, Phillips Furniture has furnished homes and businesses from all over Middle Georgia and currently has three stores in the Warner Robins region. The original store opened in 1983, and Linda has expertly utilized social media to drive traffic and interest to her store in recent years. Linda was also recognized for her commitment to customer service and her desire to personally handle every service issue.

Susan Costa | Hillsdale Furniture – 2016 GHFA REP OF THE YEAR
Susan is a very diligent and customer service oriented representative at Hillsdale Furniture for over 16 years. Her knowledge of the industry and professional interactions with retailers and sales associates are well known throughout the industry.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA RETAIL ASSOCATION
Since 1961, the Georgia Retail Association has been working on behalf of the retail community to unite and pursue the common goal of creating the best environment for retailing in Georgia. Retail supports 1 out of 4 jobs in the state and is directly and indirectly responsible for 78% of Georgia's gross domestic product. The Georgia Retail Association is a division of the Florida Retail Federation.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 7, 2016

CONTACT: James Miller, Communications Director
(321)229-9266, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Georgia’s premier retailing and home furniture advocacy organizations seek nominations, with winners being recognized during ceremony at GRA Fall Meeting in October

ATLANTA, GA – The Georgia Retail Association (GRA), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 50 years, and the Georgia home Furnishings Association, the state’s leading home furnishings retail association, are now accepting nominations for the prestigious Georgia Retailer of the Year and Georgia Home Furnishings Rep of the Year awards, which recognize outstanding retailers for sound business practices, and a commitment to their employees, customers and communities. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, September 23. Winners will be announced during GRA’s 2016 Fall Meeting taking place October 11 at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation. Nominations should be sent to GRA State Director Jake Glos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or faxed to (850) 561-6625.

“Georgia has more than 120,000 retailers who are all making significant contributions to the industry and their communities, and we want consumers’ help in identifying two retailers who epitomize the great work these businesses are doing,” said GRA President/CEO Randy Miller. “I encourage shoppers to nominate their favorite retailer and shine the spotlight on how they’re making a positive impact on their community and their customers.”

This is the second time that GRA has presented Retailer of the Year Awards, which recognize outstanding retailers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to their employees, customers and communities. Last year’s winners were nominated by their peers and were carefully chosen by a selection committee based upon their outstanding commitment to not only their work and their industry also to their association. The 2015 winners were:

Representative Jason Shaw | Georgia Olive Farms
Steve Mathews | Mathews Furniture
Bill Harrison | Bernhardt Furniture

ABOUT THE GEORGIA RETAIL ASSOCATION
Since 1961, the Georgia Retail Association has been working on behalf of the retail community to unite and pursue the common goal of creating the best environment for retailing in Georgia. Retail supports 1 out of 4 jobs in the state and is directly and indirectly responsible for 78% of Georgia's gross domestic product. The Georgia Retail Association is a division of the Florida Retail Federation.

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Thursday, 18 February 2016 15:20

OrdinanceWatch Launches in Georgia

Written by

GhFA is pleased to announce the expansion of the popular OrdinanceWatch™ local government monitoring service into the state of Georgia beginning today. This expansion into the state’s major population centers provides Georgia businesses with the advance email notification system that Florida businesses have been utilizing since 2003. 

OrdinanceWatch™ users are able to customize their preferences by picking from 20 issue areas and more than 50 Georgia cities and counties for which they are interested. OrdinanceWatch™ is the only advance warning service of its kind and is extremely valuable to businesses interested in knowing what local regulations and initiatives may be impacting them, but don’t have the resources to keep track of them all. When OrdinanceWatch™ identifies issues that match a user’s preferences, they receive an email with a link back to a full issue record, which includes a running history and available agendas and background documents.

Individual OrdinanceWatch™ subscriptions are not included in GRA memberships and will cost $750 annually.

To get your own FREE 30-day personalized OrdinanceWatch™ trial subscription, visit ordinancewatch.com.

Issues we monitor in Georgia

Monday, 08 February 2016 20:43

Job Opening

Written by

Position Description: Georgia Retail Association Membership Director
Reports To: Vice President, Membership
Position Home Base: Atlanta, Georgia Metro Area

This position is responsible for growing Georgia Retail Association (GRA) memberships (which includes Georgia Home Furnishing Association), products and services to members and prospective non-member businesses by communicating the benefits of GRA as well as retaining current membership. This position reports directly to the Vice President of Membership.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Contact, acquire and recruit new members
  • Schedule appointments and personal visits with prospects
  • Achieve budgeted revenue goals
  • Actively seek new businesses and follow up appropriately
  • Maintain knowledge of goals, objectives and services provided by association
  • Keep members informed of membership benefits, events, etc.
  • Cross sell products and services to existing members
  • Actively support and participate in association events and programs
  • Retain existing members, products and services
  • Encourage participation and retention in the association
  • Plan and coordinate quarterly membership meetings and attend staff meetings as needed
  • Other duties as assigned by the Vice President of Membership

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Must have previous sales experience
  • Strong organization, time management and multi-tasking skills
  • Self-starter with a professional appearance
  • Willingness to travel entire State of Georgia to meet current and prospective members
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office programs including Outlook, Excel and Word
  • Must have/maintain a dependable vehicle with proof of license and insurance
  • Ability to prospect/cold-call new businesses and to upgrade and sell major accounts
  • Strong verbal and written communications skills
  • Ability to think outside the box to offer new ideas, concepts, solutions, etc.
  • Capable of maintaining sensitive/confidential information
  • Must be a team player that works well in an adapting environment
  • Ability to work from home
  • Exceptional people skills with an outgoing personality

This full time position offers a competitive salary commensurate to experience plus bonus potential. In addition, paid medical and dental will be offered in addition to participation in company’s 401(k) plan.

Please direct all inquiries to Jon Stolp, Vice President of Membership at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 888.357.3824.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 14:28

GRA President/CEO Rick McAllister to Retire

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2015
CONTACT: James Miller, Communications Director | (321)229-9266 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

McAllister to retire December 31 after a successful tenure re-establishing the organization as the voice of retailing in Georgia; Executive VP Randy Miller named new President/CEO while same talented and influential support staff remain to support member needs

ATLANTA, GA – The Georgia Retail Association (GRA), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 50 years, announces that President/CEO Rick McAllister, who reestablished and strengthened the organization, is retiring at the end of the year, concluding three years as GRA’s leader. Veteran GRA Executive Vice President Randy Miller was announced as the new President/CEO, and will start in his new position beginning January 1. The day-to-day management of GRA’s local initiatives will continue to be handled by the same staff, including Melissa Joiner Ramba as Legislative Director and Jon Stolp as VP of Membership.

“It has been an incredible opportunity to lead the Georgia Retail Association and to see the significant progress we’ve made in revitalizing the organization and building it back up to be the influential voice of retailing that it’s been for more than 50 years,” said McAllister. “Georgia is full of such a great and diverse group of retailers, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to help ensure the retail industry grows and remains an important economic driver for the state.”

Randy Miller has been serving as Executive Vice President of GRA, and is a former Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue and served as an association executive and a government consultant for various law firms prior to joining GRA. Ramba has been with GRA since 2013 and coordinates the organization’s legislative and regulatory affairs with Georgia lawmakers and agencies. Since 2011, Stolp has managed the organization’s membership recruitment and retention as well as coordination of its member benefits and services.

“I’m honored to serve as the new President/CEO, and to follow the legacy set by one of the greatest leaders and advocates the retail industry has seen in Rick,” said Miller. “The respect and influence that GRA currently has not just in Georgia but nationwide, positions us for continued growth and success as we continue our goal of supporting our members and strengthening the entire retail industry.”

During his tenure, McAllister saw an opportunity to help a struggling GRA by creating a partnership with the Florida Retail Federation and its experienced and knowledgeable staff to support the operations of the organization. This partnership reestablished GRA as the influential voice of retailing in Georgia while also providing cost-savings services for its members. GRA now stands as strong advocate for the industry and is recognized nationally as a powerful voice for Georgia’s retailers.

“Rick has been instrumental in the growth and influence of GRA, and guided the organization through challenging times and economic conditions. Rick was a true visionary in the retail industry. The board of directors is grateful for all of his contributions and accomplishments, and for his distinguished tenure as President/CEO,” said GRA Board Chairman Casey Cesnovar of Walgreens. “Our members should feel confident that the same talented and influential support staff remains available to help them with any legislative, membership or cost-saving services they may need. GRA remains in a great position to move Georgia and our members into a brighter future.”

Under McAllister’s leadership in Florida, GRA increased its membership totals and cemented its reputation as an influential and effective association in the legislative arena. Also during his tenure, for the first time in the organization’s history, GRA launched a private health care exchange which will allow their members to provide key health benefits to their workforce.

A native of Louisiana, McAllister has over 40 years of retail, manufacturing, consulting, and association experience. His background includes retail chain store ownership, chief operating officer of a publicly traded retail company, a decade of retail consulting, and presidency of two statewide trade organizations.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA RETAIL ASSOCIATION
Since 1961, the Georgia Retail Association has been working on behalf of the retail community to unite and pursue the common goal of creating the best environment for retailing in Georgia. Retail supports 1 out of 4 jobs in the state and is directly and indirectly responsible for 78% of Georgia's gross domestic product.

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For Immediate Release: September 30, 2015
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

FRF & GhFA listens to the needs of businesses and now offers an exchange allowing members the option to provide health insurance coverage to their employees; Exchange will help businesses become more competitive in recruiting high quality employees and complying with federal health care law

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) and Georgia home Funrishing Council (GhFA) announced today the offering of a health insurance exchange to Florida businesses of all sizes interested in being able to provide coverage for their employees. The FRF Private Insurance Exchange is scheduled to launch October 1, in time for the 2016 Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment period, and FRF becomes the first statewide trade association in Florida history to offer an exchange, allowing the employees of participating members to select from over 50 different health plans from the leading carriers in Florida.

“FRF is always looking for ways to provide more benefits and opportunities to our members and the addition of the new FRF Private Insurance Exchange is the next step in allowing employers to offer needed health insurance to their employees,” said FRF President/CEO Rick McAllister. “We’re excited about what this offering means for businesses statewide in allowing them to be more competitive in attracting high quality employees and complying with the federal Affordable Care Act. We’re proud to be the first trade association to offer such an important and vital service that will protect our members, employees and their families.”

FRF and GhFA has partnered with Member Benefits and Ron Sellers & Associates to offer this insurance exchange, which provides some of the most popular health plans to choose from including Aetna, Florida Blue, Humana, United and Cigna. The new multi-carrier private exchange is designed for both individuals and employer groups and is an online marketplace where members can shop and compare insurance plans from multiple providers that compete for enrollment within the exchange. Employees have the option to choose the health plan that best fits their family’s needs, while time consuming administrative duties that an employer would typically have to handle are instead coordinated by FRF and its partners, leaving owners to focus on the success of their business. Decision support tools and live customer support will be available for members and employees. Member employees will also have the option to purchase ancillary benefits such as dental, vision, life, and short and long term disability. Additionally, all changes, additions, renewals, etc. are handled electronically.

“In today’s rapidly changing and complex environment, it’s vital that business owners stay up-to-date on new requirements, particularly in regards to healthcare, and FRF Private Insurance Exchange is the best way to do this,” said FRF Vice President of Membership This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. “Letting someone else manage administrative duties such as these, allows owners to focus solely on their business while offering employees vital healthcare benefits.”

For more information on the FRF Health Insurance Exchange, please visit ghfa.memberbenefits.com.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 24, 2015
CONTACT: James Miller, Communications Director | (321)229-9266 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Come October 1, if a business is not accepting EMV cards, the liability for fraudulent activity on credit/debit cards with chips switches from the card issuer to the business; FRF encourages businesses to make change to protect themselves and their customers

ATLANTA, GA – The Georgia home Furnishing Association (GhFA), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 50 years, alerts Georgia businesses of the upcoming October 1 liability shift date and to update their point-of-sale terminals to allow them to accept the new security-enhanced EMV chip cards. After October 1, the liability for counterfeit fraud shifts from the card issuer to the merchant. By making this change, businesses will help save themselves potentially tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges, while also increasing the safety and protection of their company and their customers.

“We strongly encourage every business in Georgia to make the switch to the EMV chip cards, which provide more security for the consumer and less liability for the business owner,” said GhFA President/CEO Rick McAllister. “The Georgia Retail Association stands ready to support Georgia’s 120,000 retailers and their millions of point of sale terminals which need to incorporate this newer technology to continue providing their customers with a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”

EMV - which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa - is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. This technology was adopted by most European countries more than a decade ago and has resulted in significant drops in fraud, saving merchants hundreds of millions in lost income. During that same time fraud in America has doubled.

To help those businesses wary of the initial upfront investment that comes with upgrading their technology and point of sale terminals, GhFA is offering terminals for just $99, down from the already low rate of $350. This was done to ensure that every business that wanted to make the switch has the financial capabilities to do so.

“GhFA has been working with our members to both inform them of this upcoming change and support their efforts to make the switch to accepting EMV,” said Jon Stolp, GhFA’s Vice President of Membership. “It’s our goal to do whatever we need to do to convert as many of our members as possible prior to the liability shift date and we will continue our efforts to help those businesses that want to make the change by providing them with an affordable way to do so.”

ABOUT THE GEORGIA RETAIL ASSOCIATION
Since 1961, the Georgia Retail Association has been working on behalf of the retail community to unite and pursue the common goal of creating the best environment for retailing in Georgia. Retail supports 1 out of 4 jobs in the state and is directly and indirectly responsible for 78% of Georgia's gross domestic product.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2015
CONTACT: James Miller, Communications Director | (321)229-9266 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Representative Jason Shaw of Georgia Olive Farms, Bill Harrison of Bernhardt Furniture and Steve Mathews of Mathews Furniture to be recognized at this week’s GRA Fall Meeting

ATLANTA, GA – The Georgia Retail Association (GRA), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 50 years, is proud to recognize three Georgia business leaders for their contributions to the state’s retail industry as well as their commitment to their communities. Georgia Representative Jason Shaw of Georgia Olive Farms, Bill Harrison of Bernhardt Furniture and Steve Mathews of Mathews Furniture will be recognized and presented with awards during GRA’s 2015 Fall Meeting taking place September 21-23 at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation in Lake Oconee. Harrison and Mathews will receive awards on behalf of the Georgia home Furnishings Association (GhFA), which is a division of GRA.

“As the voice of retailing in Georgia, we’re proud to recognize three industry leaders who have made a difference and serve as examples for what retailers do for this state,” said GRA President/CEO Rick McAllister. “These winners are representative of the talented, passionate and hard working professionals that make retailing such a great industry to be a part of.”

This is the first time that GRA has presented Retailer of the Year Awards, which recognize outstanding retailers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to their employees, customers and communities. This year’s winners were nominated by their peers and were carefully chosen by a selection committee based upon their outstanding commitment to not only their work and their industry also to their association.

Representative Jason Shaw | Georgia Olive Farms – 2015 GRA RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Representative Jason Shaw represents Georgia House District 176 (representing Atkinson, Lanier, Lowndes and Ware counties), and dedicates most of his spare time to his local community. He has served as President of the Lakeland/Lanier County Chamber of Commerce and the Lanier County Lions Club and he is also a past Director of the Greater Valdosta Area United Way and a past Trustee of the Valdosta Technical College Foundation. His company, Georgia Olive Farms, is a hardworking and innovative family-owned business that has put olive oil on the map in the state of Georgia and its popularity is rapidly spreading throughout the country.

Steve Mathews | Mathews Furniture – 2015 GhFA RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Mathews Furniture is a family-owned business considered one of the most prestigious furniture stores in the city of Atlanta, carries the highest quality furniture in the southeast and features a well known design team. Steve and his team donate furniture to Camp Twin Lakes for kids and also to the Furniture Bank to help families escape hostile home environments.

Bill Harrison | Bernhardt Furniture – 2015 GhFA REP OF THE YEAR
Bill has been with Bernhardt Furniture for 34 years, has served as a GhFA board member and has remained actively involved in the organization for 30+ years. As a family-owned business established in 1889, Bernhardt Furniture celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA RETAIL ASSOCIATION
Since 1961, the Georgia Retail Association has been working on behalf of the retail community to unite and pursue the common goal of creating the best environment for retailing in Georgia. Retail supports 1 out of 4 jobs in the state and is directly and indirectly responsible for 78% of Georgia's gross domestic product.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2015
CONTACT: James Miller, Communications Director | (321)229-9266 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATLANTA, GA – The Georgia home Furnishing Association (GhFA), the voice of Georgia retailing for more than 50 years, highlights a bill signed today by Governor Nathan Deal which permits employers to create policies that provide preferential hiring, promoting, or retention to veterans of the United States armed forces. The bill, which was sponsored by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-13, Rome) and Senator Hunter Hill (R-6, Atlanta), unanimously passed the House and overwhelmingly passed the Senate before being signed into law by the Governor.

“The men and women of our military deserve our utmost respect for their sacrifice, and this bill allows businesses to show this respect by giving preference to them and the valuable skills and experiences they can bring to a company,” said GhFA President/CEO Rick McAllister. “With more than 120,000 retailers in our state, the retail industry provides great employment opportunities for our veterans, and I look forward to seeing the positive difference they’ll make for these businesses.”

“I’m happy to have sponsored this bill which will help more of our decorated veterans find employment once they return home,” said Representative Dempsey. “Every business can benefit from the leadership skills, proven dedication and teamwork that veterans bring to a position.”

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February in America means two important holidays for retailers: the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. While the specific items and reasons for purchasing may be different, both are days when retailers aim to get it right either through sales or advertising. To break down this consumer data, the Retail Insight Center released its projected spending for both events to see how it relates to past years.

If these figures are any guide, 2015 may be the best year for consumers in over a decade.

Starting with the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 (Go Patriots!), the RIC estimates that 80 percent of all purchases for the game will be for food and beverages, with roughly 50 percent of people either going to parties, hosting them, or heading to a bar to watch the game. On average, people will spend $77.88 for Super Bowl Sunday, which is up from $68.27 in 2014, suggesting a greater propensity to spend for the big game.

However, the increase in spending on the game might not translate to secondary spending that comes in the form of the multimillion dollar advertising spots during the game. Over 35 percent of adults consider the game the most important part of the Super Bowl, while commercials lag behind at under 20 percent. When asked about the commercials, 80 percent of survey respondents thought of them as “entertainment,” while only 20 percent said they helped raise brand awareness, and almost 17 percent thought they were a waste of time and money. But who doesn’t love seeing Clydesdales and puppies together regardless of whether or not you’d actually buy a case of Budweiser?

Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, is a big spending holiday, and V-Day 2015 might be the biggest spending day of the decade. RIC survey data shows that even though just 54.9 percent of adults will celebrate the holiday, those who do will spend an average of $142.31 on the day, up from the $133.91 spent on 2014. That comes out to a total of $18.9 billion, a new survey high.

Where will this money be spent? According to the data, 70 percent of adults will spend money at department and discount stores, while 25 percent will go online for gifts. Local and specialty stores remain well represented in the survey data, with 30 percent of adults going there this year, while florists will receive a visit from about 20 percent of people. However, the market for Valentine’s Day doesn’t extend to the non-celebrants, of whom a vast majority plan on doing nothing for Valentine’s Day. read more

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