February 5, 2018

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Senator Matt Little and Representative Rick Hansen (pictured left) joined Representatives Sandra Masin and Pat Garofalo (not pictured) at the February Public Affairs Breakfast.
Legislative Session        
Legislative Session Kicks Off February 20; Update Calls Begin February 26
The Minnesota legislative session kicks off on February 20. For members seeking an insiders look at the legislative week, MnRA hosts a weekly 10:00 a.m. Monday conference call.

This members-only activity takes place each week of legislative session through its conclusion and includes opportunities for retailers to get involved in the policy making process.

There is no cost for these calls and no advance RSVP is required.  Simply dial in for the calls that interest you and work with your schedule. Calls last approximately 30 minutes.

To obtain dial-in information for these calls, register now or contact MnRA at mnra@mnretail.org or call us at (651) 227-6631. Following registration we'll send you a calendar invite with dial-in information.

The Changing Face Of Retail Brings New Career Opportunities
From The Globe and Mail, February 9, 2018  
"Stephen Bebis is looking to hire a director of in-store experience. If the job title sounds like one that didn't exist 20 years ago, that's probably accurate. Mr. Bebis, a new partner at talent strategy firm The Bigwin Group after decades in retail as founder of both Quebec home-improvement retailer Reno Depot and sports chain Golf Town, says he's excited about the potential for innovation in retail careers.

"We're on the cusp of a retail renaissance. It's changing dramatically, and it's an opportunity to be part of an amazing transformation," he says. Technology and the increasingly connected, customer-centric world makes today's retail environment one where people can increasingly see themselves forging a long-term career path.

Unlike some fields, nearly everyone has had some interaction with retail, so the changing landscape is no secret. It's also easy to grasp that a director of in-store experience position would demand a mindset to think of retailing from every angle, from concept to space to lighting, smell and taste. Increasingly, stores are more than just a depot of shelves, but hubs for customers to connect with experts on their products.

This need to see the big picture is also having an impact on the skills required of those who move up the retail career ladder. Hart Hillman, founder and CEO of The Bigwin Group, where recruitment focuses mostly on C-suite careers, says he and his colleagues look for leaders who are able to respond to change. "Adaptability is key, to look into the future and see things others are not seeing," says Mr. Hillman.

Ms. Gunn, who teaches leadership to her students at Ryerson, agrees. "From a leadership perspective, being able to mobilize a team, to move strategy in responsive way, you need to have leadership skills that are adept at being responsive," she says.

The promise of strategic thinking and innovation has made retail even more attractive as a career. In a 2017 paper published in The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Ms. Gunn and her colleagues presented research that showed a shift in perception of retail-management careers over the past decade, in which people have started to see retail as an intentional trajectory, with a younger cohort even viewing the path as a way to engage in community building."

Retail Entrepreneur And 36 Lyn Refuel Station Owner Lonnie McQuirter Selected As 2018 Board Chair
2018 Board Chair Lonnie McQuirter
(photo from Right Now Enterprises)
Lonnie McQuirter has been elected chair of the Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA). In late January the Board of Directors gathered and selected McQuirter to lead the organization representing 1,200 retail stores.

The volunteer leadership role is for one year and encompasses leading a group of 28 Board members from across the state and a staff focused on growing Minnesota's retail economy and jobs.

McQuirter operates 36 Lyn Refuel Station, a convenience store based in south Minneapolis.

36 Lyn is focused on providing customers with local and better-for-you-items delivered in a convenience setting. Last year 36 Lyn was honored with Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's Fast50 award as and Inc. magazine's Inc. 5000 as a top Minnesota company.

McQuirter is optimistic about the overall retail environment, saying " Broadly speaking, as retailers we know what headwinds we're facing, and we are adapting to the shifts taking place in the economy. 2018 is more about reminding people of the importance of our growing industry and all the opportunities involved."

McQuirter succeeds Grand Jeté small business owner Ruthena Fink. " We are excited to have Lonnie and his love of community help guide the Association in a time when retailers are revitalizing their in-store and online experiences," said MnRA staff president Bruce Nustad. " And we thank Ruthena for her inspired leadership throughout 2017."
Duluth Could Tighten Down On Sales Of Flavored Tobacco Products

From the Duluth News Tribune, Peter Passi, February 11, 2018

"Monday night, the Duluth City Council will decide whether to place new restrictions on where menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products can be sold.

An ordinance proposed by At Large councilors Barb Russ and Zack Filipovich would confine the sale of flavor-infused tobacco products in Duluth to adults-only smoke shops that derive 90 percent or more of their revenues from tobacco and tobacco-related items.

If adopted, the ordinance would leave many local convenience stores out in the cold, according to Brandon Kaisersatt, vice president of operations for four Short Stop convenience stores in Duluth.

"It's over 30 percent of our business, and that's just the (tobacco) products alone. That's not taking into consideration what we call market basket sales - that customer who comes in to purchase one product is also likely to stop and purchase their milk, their pop, their sandwiches and their gas. Unfortunately, if this passes, those consumers are just going to stop in Hermantown or Superior or somewhere else. So we're not just going to lose that product but all the other products as well," he said."

Will The Olympic Torch Burn Brightly For Retailers?
From the Retail Dive, Cara Salpini , February 8, 2018 
"Is there anything more American than the Super Bowl? Perhaps not, but the Olympics certainly gives it a run for its money. And as the parties (leaning towards riots) are finally winding down in Philadelphia, marketers are turning their attention from Alexa losing her voice and inspired cries of "Dilly Dilly" to the global stage, which comes with a host of other problems - and opportunities - for retailers and brands alike.

Unlike the Super Bowl, which impacted the grocery and apparel sectors, along with playing host to elaborate marketing campaigns, the Olympics has a much more limited effect on retail. The apparel sector is still impacted, but the unique opportunities that the Olympics offer tend to center around ad campaigns, where marketers have the opportunity to tell longer stories, and take advantage of patriotic emotions and part-time celebrities.

"The apparel category is what gets the bounce. There's not as many viewers or point-in-time social elements as there are in the Super Bowl, so you don't have big viewing parties and areas where there's a lot of consumption," Greg Portell, a lead partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney, told Retail Dive. "It's more storytelling and wanting to be a part of something that's global or national as opposed to being in a room full of people looking at an event at a point of time."

Local Sale Tax        
No Certainty Duluth's Sales Tax Passes Legislature This Year
From Duluth News Tribune, Brooks Johnson, February 11, 2018 
"Duluth leaders are optimistic the Legislature will approve a local sales tax increase to help rebuild the city's roads. History shows they should be nervous.

Sales tax requests have been scuttled by lawmakers plenty of times in the past 20 years, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department.

"Several local sales taxes were requested several years in a row before they were eventually passed, often in a modified form," Legislative Analyst Pat Dalton wrote in a recent memo.

In many cases the requests will pass one chamber but fail to make the cut when the House and Senate merge their bills; just last year Detroit Lakes and Excelsior failed to get their proposed sales taxes into the final tax bill.

With another tax issue set to dominate discussions in St. Paul this session - conforming state laws with federal tax reform - it's possible Duluth, too, gets left out this year.

"Conformity is big; it takes precedence over everything else at this point," said Rep. Greg Davids, a Preston Republican and chair of the House tax committee. "If it doesn't happen in '18, you go forward to a normal tax year, which would be '19."

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Minnesota Retailers Associaiton
400 Robert Street North, suite 1540
St. Paul, MN 55101
Tel. (651) 227-6631 - mnretail.org - mnra@mnretail.org