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FEB/MAR 2019 The official publication of the Michigan Retailers Association


Okemos jeweler Becky Beauchine Kulka is Michigan Retailers Association’s new board chair.

One retailer’s path:

MRA’s new chair succeeds by following her gut instincts ANNOUNCEMENT: MRA leadership changes A 2018 legislative recap and our 2019 priorities Minimum wage and paid sick leave: What you need to know

Volume 44 No. 1


Chair Becky Beauchine Kulka Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, Okemos


Michigan Retailers Services, Inc. Board of Directors JAMES P. HALLAN

President and CEO


President and CEO Michigan Retailers Association

Allendale True Value, Allendale


Leppink’s Food Centers, Belding


Publication Office

Vice Chair Little Forks Outfitters, Midland Treasurer Mondial Properties, Birmingham


Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Michigan Retailers Association


Past Chair Orin Jewelers, Garden City


Golden Shoes, Traverse City


Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island


Marshall Music Company, Lansing


Credit Card Group


Neiman’s Family Market, East China Township


Great Northern Trading Co., Rockford


Big Springs Enterprises, Naubinway


TDU Consulting, LLC, Ann Arbor


Meijer, Inc., Grand Rapids


Board Member Emeritus



603 South Washington Avenue Lansing, MI 48933 517.372.5656 or 800.366.3699 Fax: 517.372.1303






About Us Michigan Retailer (USPS 345-780, ISSN 0889-0439) is published in February, April, June, August, October and December by Michigan Retailers Association, 603 South Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48933. Periodical postage paid at Lansing, Michigan. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to 603 South Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48933. The Michigan Retailer may be recycled with other white office paper.


With every issue, we reach retail owners, managers and executives who make spending decisions for 15,000 stores and websites across the state. To request a media kit, email Rachel Schrauben at rschrauben@retailers.com.




FOLLOWING HER GUT page 12 Becky Beauchine Kulka’s name is well known in mid-Michigan and statewide among jewelers. The new MRA board chair carved out her successful business by predicting what customers would want in a jewelry store (free-flowing champagne!).





MRA’S NEXT CEO The MRA board ensures a smooth transition as James P. Hallan announces he’ll retire this summer.

6 OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA A 2018 recap and an overview of what’s ahead in 2019. 8 MRA’S LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR He fought to make ballot proposals more palatable for retailers. 9 NEW LAWS ON THE BOOKS Dealing with the new minimum wage and paid leave acts signed into law.


RETAIL TECH Make sure your POS and inventory systems can talk to each other, for maximum efficiency.

5 FIVE TIPS Onboarding new employees. 15 RIC SAFETY TIP Avoid accidents using ladders. 18 CATCH-ALL DRAWER Tidbits from around the retail world. 20 LOTTERY COLUMN

10 YOUR MEMBERSHIP We guide you in how to get the most out of it! 6 1

Retailers.com . RetailersInsurance.com BuyNearbyMI.com

IN HIS OWN WORDS The longtime Lokers family shoe business is a lesson in finding your niche.

Visit us online to see what’s new in the industry and what services we provide members to strengthen your business.



FROM THE CEO Retirement Musings My column has been titled “musings” for many years, which has given me the opportunity to comment on a variety of subjects. This column has a different ring as my upcoming retirement rapidly approaches. After 34 wonderful years, it is time to turn the reins over to the next generation. I plan to retire on Aug. 26, 2019. Coincidently, that will be my 67th birthday. While over half my lifetime has been at Michigan Retailers, it seems like yesterday that I walked through the doorway at our old headquarters and started my new job as General Counsel for the Association. Over the years, I’ve been honored to carry the retail banner and work with a terrific group of board members, employees and elected officials. You should know that my retirement has been planned for several years. The board of directors put into place an excellent succession plan. I clearly remember when Joe Swanson was Chair of the Board, and he told me at the conclusion of one of our successful years, that we must now concentrate on developing a successor in order to keep growing what we’ve built. Since its founding in 1940, Michigan Retailers has evolved into a complex organization and the thought process was to identify and develop a candidate in order to ensure a seamless transition that could lead and grow our multi-faceted organization. Our business now operates as an insurance company that is licensed to write three lines of insurance, a robust government affairs department, an educational foundation, a successful Buy Nearby program encouraging consumers to “keep their money in the Mitten,” a $1.5 billion merchant-processing portfolio with accounts in all 50 states and other various projects including publishing the Michigan Retailer and the Michigan Food News. One of my favorite sayings is that “the only constant is change,” so Michigan Retailers had to seek change in 2


order to survive in the ever-changing marketplace. We’ve not only survived, but have prospered over the years while adhering to our core mission of providing good value and service to the membership. We can proudly say that Michigan Retailers does not have any debt and is the largest state retail association in the country. Of course, it takes a lot of good people to keep the pieces on the chessboard moving in a positive direction. Michigan Retailers has always been blessed with strategic forward-thinking board members and a wonderfully hardworking employee workforce that excels at customer service. Looking ahead, I fully expect the organization to continue to grow and prosper under its new leadership team led by Bill. Many of you know Bill, as he is our current Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. The board has chosen wisely and he will be absolutely terrific as your new President and CEO. We were fortunate to hire him from the Dykema law firm eight years ago. Until August, I’ll continue to pen my musings column and perhaps add a memory or two for both humor and historical purposes.

JAMES P. HALLAN MRA President and Chief Executive Officer

William Hallan will lead MRA starting Aug. 27 With the retirement of longtime MRA executive James P. Hallan from the President and CEO position, the Board of Directors has appointed William Hallan to take the reins of the association.

passage of the Organized Retail Crime Act (Public Act 455 of 2012).

“Because MRA has evolved into a complex organization, the Board of Directors identified a successor who could ensure a seamless transition and lead our multi-faceted association,” said Board Chair Becky Beauchine Kulka.

“I’m excited to build on MRA’s success,” Bill Hallan said. “We’ve had record-breaking years for our credit card processing and workers’ compensation programs, and have made a splash with our Buy Nearby program educating consumers on the importance of keeping their money in the Mitten. I want to keep that momentum going.”

Bill Hallan joined MRA as vice president and general counsel in 2011. He expanded his responsibilities to include oversight of the Association’s legislative advocacy program in February 2012 and overall operations in September 2013. He now also holds the titles of executive vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel. “The board has chosen wisely,” Beauchine Kulka said. “Bill will be fantastic as our new President and CEO. He’ll bring his ideas to the table but also carry on the traditions established by his father.” Bill Hallan is a graduate of Denison University and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law, where he served as articles editor on the Law Review. He was a litigator with the Dykema Gossett law firm before joining MRA in 2011. Named a rising leader by the Michigan Society of Association Executives, he was twice appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the state Organized Retail Crime Commission, after playing a key role in

William J. Hallan “Michigan Retailers will be well-served by Bill’s leadership and management skills,” said his father, Jim. “It’s been an honor to work with him over the past eight years and see him advance his career and earn the trust of the board of directors. This will be an easy transition for the employees and membership. As you would expect, I’m very proud of his accomplishments.” Bill Hallan lives in Okemos with his wife, Michelle, and three children, Olivia, Zachary and Theodore.

2019 Lansing Gift Show








Stay overnight at the Radisson Hotel connected to the Lansing Center. Use our Special Buyer’s Rate of $117 per night by calling 517-482-0188 or 800-333-3333 today and mention group code GIFT19 to be included.




Wall or no wall? That is the question… Current politics aside, should your credit card terminal have a wall around it or not? Should it be on a deserted data island? My advice: Don’t let a wall shut down your business. In today’s world, your systems shouldn’t be on their own islands or have walls built around them. For efficiency’s sake, they need to talk to each other (as long as it follows PCI compliance).

JOHN MAYLEBEN ETA CPP and MRA Consultant Contact John at jmayleben@retailers.com

In the old days, your credit card terminal sat, disconnected, from your inventory system. Only the largest, most sophisticated merchants were able to afford an integrated system that “talked” to the merchant processing system. Today, that has changed. 

Your systems shouldn’t be on their own islands or have walls built around them. For efficiency’s sake, they need to talk to each other.

With the movement of tablets and touch screens into the business world and then into the point of sale, more and more merchants are able to leverage a complete package for a very small cost. This allows you, as the business owner, to give your customers a retail experience that in the past was associated only with the large multi-store, multi-state retailers. MRA has partnered with TSYS, one of our merchant processing vendors, and is offering a solution that is made for the small merchant community. The Vital point of sale system sits on a single powerful platform that gives business owners the tools they need to be successful. It all starts with the redesign of the traditional cash register. This tablet system is designed to sit on the counter at the cash-wrap station and handle all of your customer interactions, including a customer-facing signature capture and/or gratuity tool. This system will handle all of your customer facing needs, from ringing up a sale, to payment processing (cash, check, or card), to capturing the relevant information about your customer so you can market to them in the future.



And when you aren’t open for business, you can keep doing business (since business owners never sleep, right?) The cloud-based back-office tools allow you to manage all aspects of your business from almost anywhere. *Access to all data elements in one spot *Real time sales reporting *Inventory management *Pricing controls *Scalability to support a growing and changing business The system can even support mobile solutions, if your business model demands it. We can help, whether your mobile is just Wi-Fi, or a cellular away-from-theoffice solution. This new system will support business solutions that require you to take the cash-out process to the consumer, such as pay at the table for restaurants, or other unique retail experiences designed to fit your vision of the purchase experience. And since more and more consumers are not interested in taking a “receipt” with them at the point of sale, you can email the receipts to the customer. In addition to the traditional card-processing solution that your old credit card terminal supported, these new systems can support “apps” that you choose to download. These apps will allow you to leverage the hardware sitting on the counter to do things like time and attendance, inventory, customer databases, etc. Thankfully, gone is the day that your credit card terminal, your cash register, your timeclock, and your inventory ordering system don’t talk to each other.  Both the MRA customer service team and the MRA sales team are ready to answer questions and help design the best solutions for your needs. Please feel free to contact either of them at 800366-3699. Paraphrasing the immortal words of President Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Retailer, tear down the wall!”

Why employees leave And why you need to retain them Have you ever lost a fairly new employee?

Onboarding new employees New hires who go through an onboarding process are 58 percent more likely to remain with the organization after three years.

1 2

As soon as you seal the deal, go over basics -

where to go on day one, who to ask for upon arrival, what to wear and where to park.

A week before the start date, email information

about what your hire can expect the first week – informational meetings with the HR team, training, etc.


On the first day,


During the first week,


welcome your hire with a list of team members and swag, like branded notebooks, a mug and pens.

host a meeting, coffee or lunch with employees to make the new hire feel welcome.

A few months in,

solicit feedback on the interview experience and overall experience to date. Source: squarefoot.com

It’s discouraging when that happens, especially in a tight job market. Other workers need to share a bigger load and your time is taken up recruiting and then training a new employee. Time is money, so it pays to hold on to your trainees and develop them into loyal workers. You might follow up with that employee who’s leaving and ask, why? Their answer may help you reassess how to onboard and treat employees and increase worker retention. The Society for Human Resource Management cites a survey of employees who left jobs within six months. Here’s how they resonded when asked, “Why’d you leave?” • 23% - I didn’t receive clear guidelines of what was expected • 21% - I didn’t receive effective training • 17% - A friendly smile or helpful co-worker would have made all the difference • 12% - I wasn’t recognized for my contributions • 9% - I didn’t get much attention from the manager or co-workers “About one-third of the new hires who had quit said they’d had barely any onboarding or none at all, and 15 percent of respondents noted that lack of an effective onboarding process contributed to their decision to quit,” the article states. What those employees are saying is that they felt lost, a bit helpless and without direction. Worse, co-workers and management weren’t reaching out, so they may have even felt shunned and intimidated. Who wants to come to work under those circumstances? None of these reasons are particularly shocking – and they’re easily solvable. What are the advantages if you make an effort to welcome an employee, and give them feedback and guidance as they get their footing? The Aberdeen Group reported that 66 percent of companies with onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62 percent had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54 percent reported higher employee engagement. Read our 5 Tips, at left, for ways to make sure you get off on the right foot with someone new to your operation. It will save time and money and hopefully gain you a loyal employee! WWW.RETAILERS.COM FEB / MAR 2019


Legislative Overview What we fought for in 2018 In the busiest lame duck session Michigan has ever seen, legislators sent 408 bills to Gov. Rick Snyder. While lots of items MRA was tracking crossed the legislative finish line during those four weeks, each session is more a marathon than a sprint. This is particularly evident in the slow but steady progress Michigan Retailers has made on a number of important issues. In the spring, MRA successfully revised outdated statutory language that left retailers open to possible litigation when substituting a generic drug for a name-brand drug. Also on the pharmacy front, we worked to finalize a draft bill requiring all prescriptions be sent electronically to the pharmacy to reduce fraud and opioid abuse. It will be one of our priority issues in 2019.

changes to the school schedule that would hurt tourism. Amy Drumm, MRA’s VP of government affairs, traveled to Washington D.C. in April with grocer members Martin’s Supermarket, Meijer and Kroger to receive the Food Marketing Institute’s Donald H. McManus Award and advocate for reauthorization of the Farm Bill. In September, she was joined by Becky Beauchine Kulka (Becky Beauchine Kulka Fine Diamonds and Jewelry in Okemos) and Barb Stein (Great Northern Trading Co. in Rockford) to meet with Michigan’s congressional delegation on reauthorizating the Farm Bill, stopping the federal border adjustment tax from being included in tax reform and encouraging Congress to take up debit swipe fee reforms.

Revising minimum wage and paid medical leave mandates

SB 1171 and SB 1175, Public Acts 368369 of 2018

MRA spent several months working on two ballot proposals that would have increased Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022 and required employers comply with a more generous paid sick leave policy than even California has adopted. The result of those efforts were changes making the two laws more palatable to employers. SB 1171 revised Michigan’s minimum wage law to increase the minimum wage to $12.05 over 12 years while also eliminating an automatic inflationary increase each year after.

The U.S. Supreme Court handed retailers a huge win when it ruled in mid-June to uphold South Dakota’s law requiring out-of-state sellers collect South Dakota’s sales tax. This allowed states to require remote sellers to collect sales tax the same as local stores, putting retailers on a level playing field. Michigan’s Department of Treasury issued guidance adopting South Dakota’s standards. The Wayfair decision will bring in about $183 million in sales tax. To limit out-of-state funded ballot proposal activity - such as we witnessed with onerous ballot proposals to change the minimum wage and paid leave - we supported reforms requiring equal geographic representation for future signatures collected. These reforms brought Michigan in line with other states and provided clarity and transparency throughout the ballot proposal process. We held off efforts to increase property taxes, implement burdensome data breach notification requirements, limit free market competition, set lower limits for the amount of pseudoephedrine an individual can purchase, reduce revenue to Downtown Development Authorities and Principal Shopping Districts, and 6


SB 1175 modified the paid leave act to reflect the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) definitions, which only cover employers with more than 50 employees and reduce the number of hours earned from 1 hour for every 30 hours of work to 1 hour earned per 35 hours worked. The bill also reduced the number of paid time off hours each year from 72 hours to 40. Seasonal workers, part-time workers and variable-hour workers will not be covered by the requirement. Both take effect on March 29, 2019. While this is a big win, we do expect these changes will be challenged in court and there may be another ballot proposal attempt in 2020 by the same group. For more information on these two requirements, see page 9.

Modernizing substitution pricing language

HB 5805, Public Act 246 of 2018

After several years, MRA won approval of legislation that modernizes outdated statutory language that left retailers open to possible litigation when substituting a generic for a name-brand drug. MRA’s requested changes removed a rigid savings calculation that is not currently utilized but presented an opportunity continued on page 7

2019 brings a lot of new dynamics and potential challenges: Michigan now has a Democratic governor and a Republicancontrolled legislature. Marijuana is now legal. Only eight members of the 38-member Senate are returning and overall 36 percent of the legislature is brand new. That’s 53 new faces we’ll need to bring up to speed on retail issues. We have our work cut out for us but we’re up to the challenge.

MRA’S priorities for the 2019 session Codify the Wayfair decision and close the sales-tax marketplace loophole

In June 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld South Dakota’s law requiring out-of-state sellers to collect South Dakota’s sales tax the same as local stores. The decision puts nearly all retailers on a level playing field. Michigan’s adopted guidance, issued by the Michigan Department of Treasury, follows the South Dakota standards and should be put in statute to prevent any confusion

by out-of-state sellers. There is also one missing piece of the sales tax collection puzzle: platform or marketplace sellers. Several states have approved marketplace legislation that allows the marketplace operator to collect and remit one return on sellers’ behalf without unreasonable burden or liability on the marketplace operator or marketplace sellers. MRA will be pursuing state legislation that puts the Wayfair decision standards in Michigan law and adopts model legislation allowing the marketplace operator to collect and remit sales taxes for its sellers.

Reduce prescription fraud and errors

Following a lengthy drafting process, MRA has a bill ready to go that will reduce prescription fraud and errors by requiring all prescriptions be sent electronically to the pharmacy. The bill comes in light of the opioid crisis and was one of the action items the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force considered to protect Michigan residents. By requiring electronic prescriptions, we can almost entirely eliminate fraud and errors. It can also be used to track when and where a patient has filled a prescription. This solution is gaining popularity – 12 states have adopted similar legislation and federal legislation was signed into law last fall requiring all Medicare Part D controlled substances prescriptions be sent electronically. Prescription errors, fake prescriptions, and opioid abuse have dropped in states where the law includes penalties that ensure a majority of physicians are using the system. MRA’s careful drafting seems to have eliminated most concerns from physician groups. A number of other industries and continued on page 8

2018 In Review continued from page 6

for lawsuits. The language was modernized to reflect the current contractual payments system while ensuring that when a substitution is made, cash-paying customers receive the generic drug at the usual retail price for the generic.

Not penalizing retailers for calling the police

SB 1235, Public Act 484 of 2018

After members were forced to pay more for public safety based on the number of calls a business makes or has made from its location, legislation was introduced to prevent that practice. This became an issue in West Michigan where some municipalities created special assessment districts to raise fees on businesses that had more calls to police made from their location. It did not take into account whether the call was made by the business or by someone using the business’ parking lot. The new law requires municipal boards to obtain voter approval for special assessments, which would be levied on all properties within a special assessment district and based on the taxable value of the property assessed for the special benefit provided - not on police and fire protection provided to the property in a previous year.

Protecting retailers from troubling data security regulations

MRA spent many months building a large coalition of concerned trade associations and successfully fending off near-impossible data breach notification requirements proposed by Sen. Darwin Booher (R-Evart), then-chairman of the Senate Banking

and Financial Institutions Committee. His legislation sought to require that breached entities provide a special notice to financial institutions within three days and would have allowed a financial institution to bring a civil suit against the breached entity to cover their costs. The House took a different approach, introducing legislation that made mostly reasonable updates to Michigan’s notification requirements in the event residents’ information is compromised due to a data breach. After weeks of negotiations, MRA had successfully added several amendments to the legislation that would have allowed greater flexibility in investigations, preempted local regulations, offered businesses flexibility in who provides the notice if a third party is at fault, allowed alternative notice if the number of individuals impacted exceeds 500,000 and other tweaks. The addition of the amendments got MRA, and nearly all other stakeholders, to support HB 6405-6406, but the bills sponsor objected to the changes and the bills died. We expect this conversation will return in 2019.

Defining a pyramid scheme

HB 5726-5729, Public Acts 186-189 of 2018

Michigan joined 22 states in approving legislation that defines pyramid schemes and establishes penalties for operating aone. Public Acts 186-189 of 2018 strengthen state law to stop bad actors. Under the legislation, a pyramid scheme is defined as any plan or operation in which compensation is based primarily on recruiting others. Since pyramid schemes often masquerade as legitimate direct selling companies, the legislation gives law enforcement tools to identify and prosecute illegal pyramid schemes. WWW.RETAILERS.COM FEB / MAR 2019


Shirkey named MRA Legislator of the Year State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) was named MRA’s Legislator of the Year, thanks to his work on several issues in 2018. As he enters his second and final term in the Michigan Senate, he takes on the role of Senate Majority Leader after being elected by his Republican colleagues for the next four years. He will also serve as Chair of the Senate Government Operations Committee. He represents Branch, Hillsdale and Jackson counties.

totype engineering services for assembly of parts and specialized forming and fastening. He has also worked for General Motors, holding various management and engineering roles over 13 years.

He was first elected in November 2010 to a partial term representing Michigan’s 65th House District, also winning election at that time as representative from 2011-2012. Shirkey served two terms in the House and was elected to Michigan’s 16th Senate District in November 2014. He has been named a Friend of Retail in all three of his elections (2012, 2014 and 2018) since MRA began the designation in 2012. Last year he sponsored legislation (SB 1175, Public Act 369 of 2018) that successfully amended the onerous paid sick leave requirements. SB 1175 made the requirements in the adopted ballot proposal far more palatable for retailers and Sen. Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, is sworn in for his second term employers. His leadership role helped secure the necessary as senator for the 16th District during a ceremony at the state Capitol. Michigan votes to win approval of the changes and he created a sysSupreme Court Justice Stephen J. Markman administered the oath of office. tem to ensure all parties worked together to draft the new language in a seamless fashion. Shirkey served on the Columbia Central School Board in the 1980s and ’90s and is the past board chair of Allegiance Health In addition, as chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee System. He holds a bachelor’s degree from General Motors Instilast term he was a tremendous advocate for retail pharmacies. tute (GMI) and a master’s of science in mechanical engineering Sen. Shirkey was instrumental in brokering a legislative victory to from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. modernize language around pharmacy drug substitution pricing. Shirkey and his wife, Sue, live in Clarklake. They have three chilThis was a long-desired outcome to update archaic language and dren and several grandchildren. He is an active member of the remove potential liability from retail pharmacies after a 2014 MichJackson Free Methodist Church, where he leads major construcigan Supreme Court decision highlighted the need for changes. tion/expansion projects. He enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing, working out and woodworking. Shirkey is the founder and owner of Orbitform, which provides pro-

MRA’s 2019 priorities continued from page 7

trade groups have already expressed interest in joining MRA in supporting the legislation.

Reevaluate the onerous bottle deposit law

A long-sought goal to repeal the bottle deposit law - or at least eliminate the burden on retailers to take back carbonated and alcoholic beverages bottles and cans - will be at the forefront of our efforts in 2019. Michigan’s bottle deposit law is 40 years old and is long overdue for a review to see if it is as effective today as it was in 1976 when first approved by voters. We know it hasn’t helped Michigan’s recycling market since Michigan’s overall recycling rate of 15 percent is dismal compared to neighboring states and desperately needs to be increased. This can be accomplished, in part, by revamping and streamlining Michigan’s current process and improving access and convenience. Retailers face a number of challenges under the current two-pronged system and we think the state is long overdue to reevaluate how we can efficiently and effectively recycle and divert trash from landfills. Any changes to a voter-approved initiative requires care8


ful thought and creative solutions, which we’re prepared to dive into and welcome member input. At worst, a serious discussion on the topic will help give legislators pause before considering any attempts to expand the law to other containers.

Prevent attempts to change property tax appeals

The fight continues in 2019. For several years MRA has been fighting back various bills that seek to increase property taxes by making the appeals process far more difficult. The legislative efforts are in response to local governments’ frustration with retailers who were over-assessed and have successfully appealed their property taxes, resulting in hits to local budgets. While legislation did not receive a hearing last term, with 53 new legislators and new legislative leaders and a new governor, those factors could impact the likelihood of this tax increase becoming a reality. MRA will closely monitor this issue in 2019 and watch other states’ actions to prevent retailers from being hit with a large property tax increase to fill local government coffers.

What employers need to know about Michigan’s minimum wage increase Public Act 368 of 2018 made changes to Michigan’s minimum wage, increasing it to $12.05 by 2030. Here’s what you need to know. • Takes effect on March 29, 2019. • If Michigan’s unemployment rate is 8.5 percent or higher for the immediately preceding calendar year the scheduled wage increases will be delayed. • No changes were made to the $4.25 an hour training wage for employees aged 16-19 for the first 90 days of employment. • The youth wage (85 percent of the state’s minimum wage) for employees ages 16-17 is still in effect. • Tipped wage remains at 38 percent of the state’s minimum wage. Tipped employees must make at least the state’s minimum wage when tips are factored in. If they do not, the employer must make up the difference. • $12.05 was calculated to coincide with the estimated wage Michigan would have reached under the current law that adjusted it each year by inflation.

Minimum Hourly Wage

Youth Wage (85% of min wage)

Tipped Wage (38% of min wage)*

Current wage




Mar. 29, 2019




Jan. 1, 2020




Jan. 1, 2021




Jan. 1, 2022




Jan. 1, 2023




Jan. 1, 2024




Jan. 1, 2025




Jan. 1, 2026




Jan. 1, 2027




Jan. 1, 2028




Jan. 1, 2029




Jan. 1, 2030




What employers need to know about Michigan’s new Paid Medical Leave Act A new state law, Public Act 369 of 2018 requires certain employers provide employees with paid medical leave benefits beginning on March 29, 2019. Let’s break down who is impacted and what the requirements are.

ployees with a current labor contract will become eligible once the contract expires. Employers are recommended to track employee hours and schedules carefully to determine whether or not they are eligible for benefits.

Which employers have to provide benefits under the new law? Employers who pay payroll taxes on 50 or more employees must provide eligible employees with paid medical leave benefits. Employees on paid or unpaid leave are included towards the 50-employee threshold.

I already offer paid leave, do I need to change my policies to comply? Not necessarily, if an employer offers a minimum of 40 hours paid leave time to employees in the form of paid vacation time, paid personal time, or paid sick time that employer is presumed to meet the new requirements of the act. If the total amount of paid leave is less than 40 hours, those policies would not be compliant with the act.

Which employees are eligible for benefits? Even if an employer is required to provide benefits under the law, not all employees are eligible to receive them under the act. Seasonal workers (employed for a job scheduled for 25 weeks or fewer), part-time workers (who worked fewer than 25 hours week on average the preceding calendar year), and variable hour workers (the term variable hour workers is not well defined and has a complicated federal threshold to meet) are exempt. Em-

What kind of benefits do eligible employees receive? Eligible employees may use 40 hours of paid medical leave each year. Employees must use paid medical leave in one-hour increments unless otherwise agreed to by the employer. The act defines a benefit year as any 12–month period used by an employer to calculate an eligible employee’s benefits. continued on page 21



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And don’t miss out on our Workers’ Comp. insurance. Visit RetailersInsurance.com

Visit Retailers.com for a quote. Visit partnership.com/41mra to enroll. NO, it’s too expensive.

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Visit retailers.com/private-exchange for more info.

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We recently launced our Private Insurance Exchange that may give you more options.

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of our services and your business should be humming!! WWW.RETAILERS.COM FEB / MAR 2019


A store built on keen instincts and ‘luck in life’ New MRA board chair talks about her retail evolution By MEEGAN HOLLAND As Becky Beauchine Kulka looks back on 30 years as a Michigan jeweler, she laughs at her modest beginnings, tears up over the mentors along the way and expresses gratitude for the success of her Okemos store.

Retailing is never an easy path, especially if you don’t come from a family of retailers. It’s been 30 years marked by a marriage, three kids, a divorce, lots of networking, taking risks and a lot of business success.

She says her path was marked by “flying by the seat of my pants,” starting with $5,000 and building it into a 3,000-square-foot business called Becky Beauchine Kulka Fine Diamonds and Jewelry in Meridian Township south of Okemos - also referred to as BBK, as in bbkfinejewelry.com.

Her latest achievement is her recent election as Michigan Retailers Association’s board chair. Her MRA involvement started thanks to her interest in legislative advocacy and the opportunity to network with other retailers. She says she’s thrilled to work with fellow board members and the MRA staff: “I have never worked with a group of people that I find more inspiring. They think so out of the box.”

It sounds like a mouthful, but ask anyone in mid-Michigan, and they can probably sing the jingle, “Becky Beauchine Kulka,” heard multiple times on television for 15 years.



Kulka grew up with a Michigan State Police officer for a dad and

Becky Beauchine Kulka talks to an employee at her Okemos store . Kulka focuses on offering brands unique to mid-Michigan and a customer-pleasing service of champagne on tap.

a teacher for a mom. Her entrepreneurial spirit started to shine in high school, when she took a job at Claire’s Boutique piercing ears; in college, she started work at Service Merchandise, where a store manager declared, “YOU will be the diamond girl … and I literally knew nothing about diamonds.” That was the start. She graduated from the Gemological Institute of America and decided to strike out on her own, with $5,000. At age 23, she dove into the jewelry appraisal business by buying a porta-lab, knocking on doors of insurance agents and asking them for referrals. Two years in, a client asked if Becky could sell her a diamond. Kulka said yes, even though she had no inventory. She found a diamond vendor who took a chance on her and her retail jewelry business was launched. continued on page 14



Becky Beauchine Kulka continued from page 13

Today, she has three graduate gemologists on staff, a goldsmith and membership in the American Gem Society, the arbiter of jewelry ethics. And she still tells her sales team: “If a customer asks, ‘Can you…?’ - the answer is always ‘Yes.’ And then we figure it out.” Kulka is constantly thinking about trends and how to promote them. She keeps her ear to the ground by attending shows and being active in groups like MRA. She attended her first big vendor show in Las Vegas in 1995, when her youngest of three children had just turned three months old. “I was raising kids and running a business,” she laughs.

buy it. I want it to feel luxurious. We have a lifetime warranty on our jewelry so it HAS to be good quality.” That includes free ring sizing, replacing diamonds up to 20 points and more, as long as the customer comes in every six months to get the ring checked. Because she’s a member of Preferred Jewelers, customers can get such repairs done across a national network of jewelers. Jewelers are in a unique position to see the highs and lows of couples and families. They may end up dealing with jewelry entangled in a broken engagement, a divorce, a disputed estate or even a marital affair. But many times, the encounters can be touching as well.

The show was life-changing. She made connections with vendors and fellow retailers, bought a software package to design jewelry and found a photographer for her advertising. She held her own with a diamond vendor who underestimated her knowledge, and in the end, it convinced her to make the leap into selling designer jewelry. “If you sit in your office and you don’t get out to see what’s happening in your industry, you’re missing out,” said Kulka. “I’m not about pricing wars. I want to be fair, but even more, I want to be different by offering lines that other stores aren’t offering.” She also offers an experience the minute customers walk through the door. There is champagne on tap – and orange juice if you prefer a mimosa. She does everything to make customers feel comfortable.

Kulka grew from a modest jewelry appraisal business in her 20s to a 3,000-squarefoot store that offers custom jewelry, high-end brands, three gemologists and a lifetime guarantee on her jewelry.


“People can be apprehensive when they come into my store, especially men,” she says. “This may be one of the biggest purchases they make in their life and they know nothing about it. They need your help. I truly believe it’s our job to educate someone. We have to really help people” – even if it means recommending a less expensive piece that will be just as beautiful and serve that customer’s needs. She cites retailers that influenced her – the beauty salon employees who treated her as a seventh-grader just as wonderfully as they treated adult customers, and the baby clothing and furniture store that wrapped gifts so beautifully that she looked like a hero to the recipient. “That’s what I wanted to do for my customers,” Beauchine-Kulka said. “That goes a long way.” “It’s all about the experience. It’s ‘retailtainment’ now,” she says, adding that she’s puzzled how people could buy jewelry online. “I literally touch and feel every single piece of jewelry before I 14


Kulka recalls ordering an engagement ring for a gentleman, whose fiancé was blind. When it was ready, he brought his girlfriend into the store. “We sat at the table and she didn’t know what was about to happen. He proposed to her right then and there.” She took the ring, felt every nook and cranny and said, “Oh my god, it’s beautiful.” Kulka glows when she tells the stories, and says, “It just reinforces the symbolism of a ring.” She feels blessed to be in the profession, and to succeed in it beyond her wildest expectations. “My career represents my luck in life,” Kulka says. “I was willing to take chances when they presented themselves, and it’s always worked out.”

News From

March is Ladder Safety Month; are your employees properly trained?

One of the most common workplace accidents involves ladder-related injuries. In the United States, over 500,000 people experience ladder-related injuries each year at work or home, and more than 300 people die from such injuries. In retail, a fall typically involves an employee who’s using a portable ladder, such as step and extension ladders, as they rush to help a customer. “Taking time, not rushing, and watching one’s step is critical to preventing falls from ladders,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Falls can cause back injuries, sprains, strains, contusions, fractures, severe head injuries, paralysis, and even death.” Here are common things to look out for: SETTING UP THE LADDER • When using portable ladders, inspect the ladder to be sure that all rungs or steps are in place and secure. Second, inspect the floor surface where each foot or rail contacts the floor. This surface needs to be level, dry, and clean.

• For a free-standing portable ladder, such as a step ladder, make sure it is fully open, the spreaders are correctly secured, and all four feet are in contact with the floor. • For ladders that aren’t free-standing, position it against a nearby vertical surface, railing, or shelf that is secure. Don’t rest the top of the ladder against anything breakable or movable such as a window. • Once the ladder is upright and resting against a surface, adjust it to the proper angle. Use the 4-to-1 placement rule: for every 4 feet of height you have to climb, move the base 1 foot away from the wall. MISJUDGING THE LAST STEP • Once a portable ladder is correctly positioned, a common fall incident occurs when the user is climbing down and misjudges the location of the last step. • Users can mistakenly think that their foot is about to touch the floor, when in fact the floor is actually 24 inches from the second-to-last rung. To avoid falling, they must quickly realize —before shifting their weight to step down — that continued on page 21




APRIL 28, 29, 30


www.nmgiftshow.com WWW.RETAILERS.COM FEB / MAR 2019


In his own words Lokers Shoes Opened: 1913 Address: 31 E 8th Street, Holland Specialties: Shoes, shoe repair, shoe fitting MRA member since: 1977 Services: Workers’ compensation, credit card processing Owners: Max and Tom Lokers


Does your business have a unique story? Contact rschrauben@retailers.com.

The longtime Lokers family business is a lesson in finding your niche. In 1913, Jacob Lokers opened a store in Zeeland, featuring a little bit of everything: shoes, shoe repair, clothing and even an area that accommodated barbers. When son Henry Lokers took over in the mid-30s, he got rid of the haircuts and focused on clothing and shoes and the barbers opened their own shop next door. Henry’s son, Vern, began working in the store. Vern saw a great need and opportunity in helping people try on shoes and getting the right fit, and he was quite good at helping customers. This led him to take the shoe inventory across the street from the clothing store and operate a solely focused shoe store. In 1969 an additional store was opened in Holland. In 1992, with retirement on his mind, Vern sold the Zeeland location and combined the inventory into the Holland store. Vern’s sons, Max and Tom Lokers, partnered up in 1995 and bought the shares from their father and currently own and operate the store. Max shares what he’s learned by running the family business and why he’s not a fan of Indian summers and doesn’t dread recessions. Top: Max Lokers with daughter Anna. Bottom: Lokers’ Bargain Basement stocks shoes at discounted prices.



IN HIS OWN WORDS Holland is beautiful. The street department plants thousands of tulips in the spring that people photograph, especially during Tulip Time. However, the amount of out-of-town traffic actually chokes our business. People come to see the tourist attractions and they aren’t focused on shopping. We have food vendors along the streets that are a big focus and we have dancers that are a big focus. Locals avoid the downtown area because of the traffic congestion unless they have children or grandchildren participating in the parades. Our busy season... Starts, as long as the weather permits, around St. Patrick’s Day and goes strong until the 4th of July, then we do our closeout sales and our big street sales in mid-August. At the end of August, we ramp up our fall/winter merchandise. As long as summer doesn’t protract itself too long, that season is good too. We are affected by... The weather more than the economy. We’re like farmers. We rely on the changes of season. This year, we were fortunate to have an early snow in November. When you get a cold April and May, we don’t have as great of sales because then we jump right into summer. The same thing can happen in the fall if summer hangs on too long and we experience an Indian Summer. When the economy... Is low or in a recession, some people aren’t buying big-ticket items, like cars. When money is tight, people buy practical. We’ve seen some times when the economy has been in the downturn, so during Christmas, people come in and buy practical things like shoes, so we can actually benefit during a downturn. Our Bargain Basement... Is open all year. We do a substantial amount of business out of it. It allows us to liquidate product without having to run sales on the main floor. It’s a handy tool to keep our upstairs clean and it’s kind of self-serve for those shoppers. My advice to the newcomers to the shoe business: Don’t always buy what you want to wear. Don’t assume your client base has the same taste as you. You still have to buy for the perceived customers. Know what your customers want, not necessarily what you want. However, you still have to... Gauge new fashion trends. You have to know what you’ve historically sold over the past few years. Eighty-five percent of your sales are going to be on items that are tried and true. Save the leftover 15 percent to try out the new and quirky ideas. Anna Lokers, Max’s daughter, and current full-timer, Jenn Dams, plan to buy out Tom’s share of the business in the near future. Max’s final advice: It’s a school of hard knocks, but it’s all worth it.

Top left: Anna Lokers carries in a new shipment of shoes. Top right: Employee Jenny Yonker assists customer Timothy Durey, of Holland. Other photos: A look inside Lokers Shoes, now in its fourth-generation of owners.



catch-all drawer The

MRA CREDIT CARD REPS GET NATIONAL CERTIFICATION Two MRA employees have earned a prestigious national designation that recognizes professionalism and expertise in the increasingly complex arena of credit card processing and other electronic payments systems.



Chris Smith, manager of business development and national sales, and Miranda Piersol, business development representative for southeast Michigan, both passed the requirements to become Certified Payments Professionals (CPP).

The certification from the Electronic Transactions Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C., shows clients that MRA representatives can deliver the highest level of knowl-

Tidbits to make business easier

edge about credit card processing. MRA’s nationally recognized credit card processing program has clients in all 50 states. Its annual volume is expected to reach $1.5 billion this year. YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED…. FedEx and UPS rates went up in 2019, so it’s more important than ever that MRA Members know how to mitigate the impact to their business. Here are three takeaways about the changes: 1. FedEx and UPS small package rates increased an average of 4.9 percent. 2. Your actual costs will vary. Depending on the service you use and your package characteristics, you could see increases above or below the average. 3. Many common surcharges are also increasing. On top of the base rates, you need to be aware of the charges that apply to your shipments and how they’ll affect your total costs. PartnerShip®, the benefit provider that manages the MRA Shipping Program, has analyzed the FedEx and UPS increases so MRA Members can accurately gauge the rate hikes impact. It’s also providing a free informational paper (at http://bit.ly/2A91DV1) so you can better understand the complicated changes. MRA Members receive exclusive discounts with FedEx that can help offset these increases. If you’re not yet enrolled in the MRA Shipping Program, now’s the time. Sign up at Partnership.com/41MRA. OSHA DEADLINES COMING UP MIOSHA is suspending enforcement of the requirement for employers to electronically submit information from the Form 300 “Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” and the Form 301 “Injury and Illness Incident Report” to OSHA. The suspension is based on OSHA’s rescission of the federal rules requiring electronic submission of the Forms 300 and 301. In July 2018, OSHA stopped accepting electronic submission of the 300 and 301 data, so compliance is an impossibility. Employers still have to maintain the Forms 300 and 301 on-site. March 2 is the deadline for electronically reporting the 300A data for employers with peak employment between 20 and 249 workers during the previous calendar year. It also applies to certain industries and establishments with 250+ employees. More info: osha.gov/injuryreporting. continued on page 19



catch-all drawer The

continued from page 18

SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE LOOMS The deadline to apply for college scholarships through Michigan Retailers Association is April 1. The competition will award 21 one-year scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $1,500. Two new scholarships were added: the Willis W. and Mary Jane Marshall Memorial Legacy Scholarship, established by Marshall Music Co’s owner, Dan Marshall, and the Orin and Tina Mazzoni & Family Legacy Scholarship, established by Orin Jewelers’ owner, Orin Mazzoni Jr. Students may apply online at bit.ly/mrascholarships. More info: rschrauben@retailers.com or 800.366.3699 x346. RIC UNVEILS WEB SITE Retailers Insurance Company has unveiled a new website at retailersinsurance.com. Aside from being more attractive, it’s also more informative. And for the first time, you’ll be able to file a claim online.


One of your MRA member benefits is access to a college scholarship competition for you, your employees and dependents.

$1,000 or $1,500

The site will be useful to employers, employees and agents alike. Look for stories ranging from safety tips and OSHA regulations. Click around the site and tell us what you think by emailing mholland@retailer.com.


scholarships are available.


Contact Michigan Retailers Association at 800.366.3699 ext. 346 or go to the application site: bit.ly/mrascholarships

Deadline: April 1





BRIAN O’NEILL Lottery Commissioner

This promotion is designed to attract players by offering them more chances to win.

Popular Straight Back Bonus promotion returns to Daily 4 The popular Straight Back Bonus promotion is returning to the Daily 4 game in March, and provides chances to win more cash with no additional cost.

and award incentives. With the redesign of MichiganLottery.com last year, players had more opportunities to win coupons up to $500.

The Straight Back Bonus automatically is applied to all Daily 4 straight bets so retailer staff members don’t have to take any extra steps to serve players. Straight Back Bonus will run for a limited time in March.

Players may present a coupon printed or digitally for validation to any Lottery retailer. Instructions for validation are printed on all coupons. Please work with your staff members to ensure they understand how to validate coupons. If you have questions, contact your district sales representative.

The Straight Back Bonus promotion doubles the chances to win for all straight bet wagers. This promotion is a favorite among Lottery players, and is designed to attract players by offering them more chances to win. Beginning March 1, Daily 4 Straight-bet players whose numbers match the drawn numbers in reverse order – “straight back” – will win a $1,000 prize. For example, if a Daily 4 player picks 1-2-34 and the numbers drawn are 4-3-2-1, the player wins $1,000! Boxed bets, 1-Off, and 2-Way bets aren’t eligible for the bonus prize, and Wheel-Bet winners will be paid only the Straight prize. Players will be paid only for the largest prize won on a ticket. The promotion gives players more chances to win one of our most popular games, without adding any cost to their wagers. We expect Straight Back Bonus to boost sales and store traffic for retailers. LOTTERY AWARDS PLAYERS COUPONS FOR USE AT RETAILERS Lottery research has shown that there is one thing all players love: free play. The Lottery uses coupons for various promotions

MRA’s Private Insurance Exchange

NEW INSTANT TICKETS: These tickets go on sale Feb. 5: IG 309 - Diamonds and Gold - $2 IG 280 - Full of $500s - $5 IG 282 - Royal Millions - $30 INSTANT GAMES SET TO EXPIRE: March 4 IG 200 - Did I Win? - $1 IG 205 - $5 Wild Time Series - $5 NEW PULL TAB TICKETS: These tickets go on sale Feb. 5: MI 533 - Loggin’ Loot - $.50 MI 541 - $15,000 Cash Explosion - $2 PULL TAB GAMES SET TO EXPIRE: March 13 MI 500 - Pinball Wizard - $1 About 97 cents of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets is returned to the state in the form of contributions to the state School Aid Fund, prizes to players and commissions to vendors and retailers.

Let us show you how the MRA private exchange takes the hassle out of group health insurance. Get a quote at bit.ly/MRAexchange Questions? Call 800.366.3699 ext. 681 Fewer than two or more than 50 full-time employees, please call the above number.



Ladder Safety Month continued from page 15

there is another rung on the ladder. Ladder users are reminded to be aware of this potential mis-stepping hazard and take precautions in their actions when climbing down a ladder.

TRANSPORTING ITEMS • Typically when climbing down a ladder, workers are carrying a box or item retrieved from an upper shelf. With one hand holding the item and the other hand holding onto the ladder, their descent can be far from safe. Best practices suggest that three points of contact are needed at all times to safely ascend or descend a portable ladder, which is possible only if both hands are free for holding onto the ladder. • One solution is for the worker to lower the item in a container or basket. A co-worker can help keep the ladder secure and take the item from the basket. If no co-worker is available to help, then the ladder-climber can put the item in a shoulder bag or back-pack. This prevents a visual obstruction and frees both hands for descending.

The CDC provides the free ladder safety app for a smart phone or tablet. Its “angle measuring tool” has both a visual indicator and an audible signal to help position a ladder at the safest angle for climbing. Go to bitly.com/safeladders.

Employers: Paid Medical Leave Act continued from page 9

When do employees become eligible to use their benefits, and how do they accrue? Eligible employees earn one hour leave for every 35 hours worked. Accrual begins immediately and can be used after 90 days. An employer is not required to allow an eligible employee to earn more than one hour of sick time in a calendar week regardless of the number of total hours that employee worked. Employees may roll over unused hours into a new year but are not entitled to use more than 40 hours during the year. An employer who chooses to provide all 40 hours of paid leave at the beginning of the year rather than as it is accrued does not have to allow hours to roll over.

request by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Employers must also display a poster, created and provided by the department, explaining the new law.

Electronic transactions Credit cards, gift cards, check processing, e-commerce – we offer it all!

For what reasons can an employee use paid sick time? An eligible employee may use paid medical leave for diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, health condition or for preventative medical care for the employee or an employee’s family member (spouse, children, parents, grandparent, grandchild, or siblings related through biological, adopted, foster, or legal status). It may also be used if the employee or employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. In addition, it may be used if a workplace or school is closed due to a public health emergency. What kind of notice can employers require? Employers can require employees to comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice, procedural and documentation requirements for requesting leave. Employers must give employees at least three days to provide the required documentation. An employer may discipline or discharge an employee for failing to comply. What kind of documentation do employers need to keep and for how long? Employers must keep records documenting hours worked and paid medical leave taken by employees for at least one year. Those records must be made available for inspection upon

Get a quote today

Email sales@retailers.com or call 800.366.3699




603 South Washington Avenue Lansing, MI 48933 Phone: 517.372.5656 Toll-free: 800.366.3699

Profile for Michigan Retailers Association

FEB/MAR 19 Michigan Retailer  

The February-March 2019 issue of Michigan Retailer, the official publication of Michigan Retailers Association.

FEB/MAR 19 Michigan Retailer  

The February-March 2019 issue of Michigan Retailer, the official publication of Michigan Retailers Association.