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OCT/NOV 2019 The official publication of the Michigan Retailers Association


A resurgence in Holly

How one couple has made a huge difference in the downtown BILL HALLAN: MRA’s new CEO talks retail Case studies: disability in the workplace complaints Preparing your store for the holiday rush

Holly’s quaint downtown gets a boost from a former HGTV star .

Volume 44 No. 5


Chair Becky Beauchine Kulka Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, Okemos


Michigan Retailers Services, Inc. Board of Directors WILLIAM J. HALLAN

President and CEO


President and CEO Michigan Retailers Association

Allendale True Value, Allendale


Leppink’s Food Centers, Belding

Vice Chair Little Forks Outfitters, Midland


Treasurer Mondial Properties, Birmingham


Past Chair Orin Jewelers, Garden City


Golden Shoes, Traverse City



Target, Retired






Design Manager


Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island


Marshall Music Company, Lansing


Credit Card Group

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


Neiman’s Family Market, St. Clair


Great Northern Trading Co., Rockford


TDU Consulting, LLC, Ann Arbor


Meijer, Inc., Grand Rapids


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.

Board Member Emeritus


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.





HOLLY page 6 One couple, a little HGTV fame and a whole lot of entrepreneurship create huge change in downtown Holly.



3 HOLIDAY SAFETY Keep your workplace festive but safe this holiday season.


4 BILL HALLAN MRA’S new CEO reflects on his connection to retail. 5 TOM CLEMENT Meet MRA’S new General Counsel. 11 KNOW THE ADA Case studies of violations that went before the EEOC. 15 BUY NEARBY WEEKEND We had a blast! Check out photos of the annual shop-local weekend. 19 JIM HALLAN RETIRES We invited a few friends to send him off.

Retailers.com RetailersInsurance.com BuyNearbyMI.com

3 FIVE TIPS Prepping your store and staff for the holiday rush. 10 RETAIL TECH A peek into the future of payment processing. 12 IN HER OWN WORDS Raeann Rouse, owner of Bridge Street Baby in Rockford. 14 GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS Our retail advocates put out lots of fires in the state Legislature.

18 CATCH-ALL DRAWER Tidbits from around the retail world. 20 LOTTERY UPDATE From the Lottery Commissioner. 21 NEW MEMBERS

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



FROM THE CEO 3rd grade math: A lesson in time management I’m always a little bit disheartened when I walk into a business and I see a merchant using Square to process their credit card transactions. While I might shake my head, I get it. Square makes it easy to sign up for credit card processing. Their value proposition is simplicity at sign up. However, that simplicity comes at quite a cost, both literally and figuratively. The rates Square charges far exceed industry averages; merchants using Square pay 2.75% for swiped transactions and 3.5% plus $0.15 for manually entered transactions. Customer service also falls by the wayside at the cost of simplicity; merchants needing support have the privilege of chatting with Square’s “Support Robot.” Essentially, the success of Square’s model is based upon the assumption that merchants are willing to pay more and have limited customer service support for simple enrollment. I’ve thought a lot about what that says about our society. It pretty much means we value our time over everything else. And not just our time in general, but our immediate time. How often do we sacrifice better solutions for a short-term convenience? It’s cliché, but time truly is our most valuable commodity. Still, making decisions solely focused on our present use of time isn’t always in our best interest. Online shopping is a perfect example. In a few simple clicks we can purchase a product that is shipped to our front door in just a couple of days. How often though does the product arrive and it’s not quite right? The fit is too big or the color looks different from what we saw online. We ship it back and order again. We could have had the right product much faster by simply visiting a local retailer.



Long-term time management is an important principle we teach our children, and we should follow our own advice. My 9-year-old daughter Olivia is in the third grade and she’s learning division. While she might know the answer to an equation right off the bat, we make sure she shows her work to demonstrate that she knows how to find the solution. Yes, it’s tedious and takes longer, but she and her classmates are establishing building blocks so they’ll be able to solve more complicated problems in the future. That’s why it pains me to see a merchant using Square. It’s a merchant prioritizing a few minutes at the beginning but losing in the long run. A retailer using Square is the same as a consumer buying from Amazon. Square’s an out-of-state company that’s not invested in Michigan. Through MRA’s merchant processing program you’ll pay less, and if you need support, you’ll talk with our team in Lansing. When I started writing this article it was not intended to be a sales pitch for our merchant processing program. It was meant merely as a commentary on how we often make decisions based on the present and not on the future. The more I wrote though, the more I thought, “You know what? We’re better, and we’ll prove it.”

WILLIAM J. HALLAN MRA President and Chief Executive Officer

Keep the holidays safe in your workplace

Prepping for the holidays

Before you get an influx of customers, you want to make sure your store is ready for the holiday rush.


Clean house

Your back room shouldn’t be cluttered with items you won’t use in the next couple months. Throw out or put them in storage.


Schedule employees

Make out the schedule all the way up to the holiday. Know the shifts you must cover only at a minimum and your busy times. Staff with more associates than you think you need.


News From

Many employees love to decorate the workplace for the holidays and participate in a company gathering. As an employer, you may want to encourage some holiday frivolity, holding ugly sweater contests and contributing the turkey for the employee potluck. But you also need to be aware of three areas of concern during the holidays. DECORATING Tell employees to never stand on a chair to hang decorations, so make sure a stepladder is handy. Also, don’t hang decorations from fire sprinklers, which could disable them. If you’re stringing holiday lights, make sure they’re certified by a nationally recognized independent testing lab and that cords aren’t damaged. Don’t overload electrical outlets nor retrofit a three-pronged plug for a two-pronged outlet. And of course, turn off lights when you leave. Use common sense with extension cords. They can be tripping continued on page 17

Shoplifting prevention

If you have a security camera(s), make sure the backup is working properly.


Check lighting

Drive by your store at night. What lights are on in the store and what need to be replaced? Do your windows look inviting? Set lights on a timer to go off at midnight.


New employees

Put newbies through scenarios, such as what to do when your POS goes down, or you run out of bags. Give them solutions now, before they run into confounding situations. Source: Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor WWW.RETAILERS.COM OCT / NOV 2019


Michigan Retailers embedded in new CEO’s DNA By MATT VANDE BUNTE


lmost two decades ago, Bill Hallan was helping merchants all across Michigan. He spent a summer in college going from store to store, installing or reprogramming standalone credit card terminals that would dial out over a telephone line. The job often would take about a half hour, and Hallan would pass the time talking to shop owners about the values of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and thanking them for being members. “It really gave me the opportunity to see the business from the ground up,” he said. “It was great to see the members in their shops and provide a valuable service to them.” Turns out that was good preparation because Hallan, now 37, is helping Michigan retailers with credit card processing and much more now that he has taken over as MRA’s new president and CEO. But his training for the role actually began even earlier, as a child. After all, the longtime MRA executive who he’s succeeding is James P. Hallan, his father. James Hallan had been CEO of MRA since 2008, and his recent retirement concluded his tenure that dates back to 1985 when Bill was just a toddler. As a result, Bill Hallan literally grew up around retailers. He met MRA board members and staff during his childhood and, as he got older, started picking his dad’s brain about things happening at work. After going to school at Denison University in Ohio and graduating magna cum laude from the University of Toledo College of Law, Bill Hallan worked as a litigator. Then, he joined the MRA in 2011 as vice president and general counsel and has worked alongside his dad since then. “I’ve basically grown up with Michigan Retailers in my life, for my entire life, so I hold it close to my heart,” Bill Hallan said. “My dad’s 4


been a role model to me, and to watch him handle his role here as CEO with such integrity, and to grow the association to new heights through his vision, has been a great learning experience for me. It’s an incredible honor to follow his lead.” MRA was organized in 1940, long before either Bill or James Hallan became leaders. It was created to be an advocate and trusted resource for the retail industry in Michigan, and that mission continues today as MRA has grown into the largest state retail association in the entire country with more than 5,000 members representing over 15,000 stores and web sites. Of course, the ways MRA supports Michigan retailers has changed through the years. For example, MRA in 1969 became the first non-bank Independent Sales Organization (ISO) to offer credit card services. Today, the MRA processes about $1.4 billion in credit card transactions each year in all 50 states. MRA also provides members with insurance options including health, dental and workers’ compensation. Its staff runs educational seminars and workshops, and does legislative advocacy on issues such as Main Street Fairness. Plus, MRA promotes shopping local through its Buy Nearby campaign, a yearround program that includes an annual statewide celebration of Michigan retailing. (See page 15 for more on this year’s celebration, which happens annually the first weekend of continued on page 5

Attorney Thomas P. Clement named General Counsel for Michigan Retailers Association Thomas P. Clement is the new General Counsel, at Michigan Retailers Association, replacing Bill Hallan, who has become the organization’s CEO. Clement came to MRA after a stint as General Counsel for the Michigan Supreme Court, where he managed litigation matters involving the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the State Court Administrative Office. He also served as the legislative liaison to the executive and legislative branches, representing the court on policy and legislative issues. Clement has practiced law for 17 years. He joined the Supreme Court in 2016, after leaving the Michigan Attorney General’s Office as a Division Chief, where he supervised a team of 12 attorneys specializing in licensing and regulatory issues. He also played a key role in working with the Legislature and Governor’s Office to ad-

continued from page 4

October). Basically, MRA is a “one-stop shop” for Michigan retailers to find support that keeps the industry – and the communities in our state – strong. “As a small retailer you’re out there by yourself, so being part of a larger group gives you a huge voice to speak from,” said Rick Melahn, a longtime MRA member who owned a store in downtown Saugatuck and now is retail manager at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, which features a large toy store. “When you’re out there as a consumer you have a lot of options today. But I think the bottom line is that the MRA helps to support that idea of keeping your dollars in the community, and that’s what Buy Nearby is all about. You’re helping support the shop owners to stay in that community and be a vital part of that community.” The retail industry changed significantly on James Hallan’s watch, with the emergence of big-box stores and the rise of online retailing. Then there was the Great Recession through the end of the last decade that hit Michigan particularly hard.

dress the epidemic of prescription drug and opioid abuse. Previously, he worked in private practice, primarily concentrating on state and federal criminal law and general civil litigation, after starting out as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Eaton County Prosecutors Office. “Clement comes to us with expertise in several areas of the law,” Clement said William J. Hallan, MRA’s President and CEO. “He’ll be especially helpful to our members with his continued on page 16

Top: Bill and his wife Michelle at Jim Hallan’s retirement party. Bottom: Bill (center) with Schupan Recycling’s Mike Soboleski, left, and Rep. Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park) at MRA’s annual legislative reception.

MRA has been nimble through the years and proactively met the needs of members by helping retailers all over Michigan adapt to changing trends, new technology, digital marketing and more. Now, as Bill Hallan takes charge, “his challenge will be the challenge that I faced: the changing retail and regulatory environment,” says his dad. Yet, the mission remains the same – to help Michigan’s retailers thrive, so that the communities in our state can prosper. “If we’re always thinking local first, then we’re always benefitting Michigan before we’re benefitting out-of-state companies that aren’t invested here,” Bill Hallan said. “I love when my kids are playing on a sports team and I see on the back of their jersey all the sponsors from local shops. My family frequents those shops on a regular basis because I know they’re invested in our town, they’re invested in Michigan and they will be invested in our future.” WWW.RETAILERS.COM OCT / NOV 2019


HGT V star and her husband make Holly downtown a destination



Opposite page: Cari Cucksey and Vince Iafano in front of The Holly Vault, where they live on the second floor and operate a wedding and events venue on the first. This page, clockwise from upper left: • The Holly Cafe is now trimmed with orange, Cari Cucksey’s favorite color. • Cari Cucksey talks to Katy Golden, Holly Downtown Development Authority coordinator and assistant village manager. • The couple renovated a 110-year-old vacant church into a wedding chapel and events venue. The project included restoring the church’s original tin ceiling tiles and wood floors.


HOLLY, MICHIGAN - It’s not uncommon for peo-

ple to come to Holly in search of Cari Cucksey, the star of the HGTV show “Cash & Cari.” The show, from the producers of American Pickers, finished after a 3-year run, but reruns still air in more than 40 countries. Cucksey arrived in Holly in 2015 with her famed vintage store called RePurpose. The shop, which originally opened in Northville in 2010, went along with the TV show that started that year. Located an hour’s drive northwest of Detroit, the shop offered a retail storefront to her longtime estate sale business, which fed into her show about how to find treasures at estate sales. What started out as one retail storefront and an estate sale business has grown to include two event venues, a chapel, accommodations, a café and soon a beer garden. It shows how one couple with enough working capital and a lot of energy can help transform a downtown. Their expansion started because Cucksey listened to her customers.

“People kept coming into the store and asking about a place to get married. I said, ‘I think we’re supposed to open an event venue,’” said Cucksey, a Michigan Retailers Association member. So in 2017 after the birth of their daughter, Orion, Cucksey and husband, Vince Iafano, decided to shift to a business that would afford them more family time. Now, most of their treasure hunting has turned into discovering the historical features hidden in old buildings and homes in and around Holly’s historic red-bricked downtown. This two-year business venture has the couple slowly transforming the Oakland County village into what they hope will be the ultimate historic wedding destination. “It all kind of symbiotically goes together,” explains Cucksey. Cucksey describes the charming village as a Norman Rockwell painting crossed with a Hallmark movie, where everybody still waves a welcome. WEDDING TRAFFIC The downtown is benefitting from the wedding traffic the couple continued on page 8 WWW.RETAILERS.COM OCT / NOV 2019


Vince Iafano walks through the pavilion built next to the chapel to provide outdoor venue space.

Holly resurgence continued from page 7

is generating. They’ll do 80 weddings in 2019 and are booked through 2020. “It’s great for the town because we’re bringing in hundreds of people every weekend that have never been here before and they’re like, ‘Wow, beautiful.’ Then they come back,” Iafano said. The couple lives, works and plays in Holly. They reside above their main venue, The Holly Vault, in a sprawling 4,500-square foot loft filled with salvaged treasures. When they bought The Holly Vault, the former bank and hardware store had been partially converted to a Pilates studio and offices. The purple and turquoise decor has since been replaced with elegant gray and white hues. Soft lighting comes from glass chandeliers and lights strung around wood beams. The namesake vault has been turned into a backdrop for the bar. More recently, they bought a 110-year-old chapel a short walk away. Their renovation has unearthed the original oak floors below orange carpet and tin ceiling tiles behind 1970s pressboard. Damaged by fire, each tile had to be scrubbed - a chore that took weeks on scaffolding. They’ve have also acquired an old 9,000 square-foot carriage house on Holly Road near I-75 they are renovating into a rustic wedding venue. The next big project will be the community’s former high school, built in1913. The sprawling 44,000-square-foot complex is being transformed into more wedding event space and a little boutique hotel for guests. Ramps and other features have been added to the buildings to 8


make them ADA compliant. “It’s actually a great selling feature,” said Iafano. “We just want to make sure we check every box when someone’s looking. We are offering one-stop shopping for weddings and events.” Their renovations are going beyond gathering spots. They have bought up six houses in Holly and rehabbed them. Funding for the projects has come from a combination of savings, real estate investments and construction loans. The village has been helpful, selling them The Vault on land contract. And Huron Valley State Bank in Milford has been a helpful lender. “We used a local bank to keep it in the community. We have since paid off the land contract and grown tremendously,” Cucksey said. A LITTLE PATINA Cucksey believes good antiques are like people. “It’s just bringing something back to life, but keeping the vintage feel, not polishing it up too much. You want it to have a little bit of character, a little patina. And it’s just like somebody, if they haven’t been through a lot, then there’s really not much depth to them,” Cucksey said. The silver-haired Iafano was semi-retired after selling his successful decorative concrete business when he met Cucksey. He had grown the business from five guys to 200 employees, by landing contracts with one of the nation’s largest homebuilders and Habitat for Humanity. He sold the business to his employees as he was resetting his life after being left a widower with two children, ages 11 and 13. He met Cucksey when a friend recommended her as a mentor for his youngest. “The more she came around, the more I’m like, ‘She’s kinda nice’,” said Iafano.

Cucksey and Iafano commissioned a mural to brighten the side of their newly acquired Holly Cafe.

The couple bought Holly’s former high school and have plans to renovate the 44,000 square space into event space and a boutique hotel.

Cari Cucksey’s

It didn’t take long for the Italian-born Iafano to fall in love with Cucksey and her passion for vintage.


“It’s already ingrained in me. I love history. I love the past, so it was a good merger,” says Iafano.

marketing • “Social media is everything. It’s about telling the story. People want to know the backstory of how you got started to make their shopping experience more meaningful. They want to know who they’re buying from and they want personal service and experience.” • She uses Instagram and Facebook, while pulling away from Twitter. Combined, her business has 15,000 followers on social media. • In her next marketing campaign, Cucksey is using virtual tours and drone shots to give potential customers a better feel for what their venues can offer.

Like Holly, Cucksey has a no-fuss charm to her. She wears her blonde tresses down and minimal makeup. This day, she has paired a denim shirt with tan cargo pants. The ensemble is punctuated by an oversized belt buckle of a Phoenix made with turquoise and other stones. It was one of her first estate sale finds. As she is talking to Michigan Retailer, fan Alice Matich comes up to gush over her. She has driven two hours from Tawas with her husband, Dirk, to visit RePurpose. Although disappointed there isn’t a store, she is thrilled to finally meet Cucksey. “I’ve been watching your show forever,” Matich tells Cucksey. “I’m into the antiques and repurposing things just like you are.” THE CARI STAMP Holly business owners are also inspired by

(Below, l-r) Downtown Holly is becoming a tourist destnation, thanks to its small-town charm. Chandeliers and white lights wrapped around wood beams now adorn The Holly Vault.

Cucksey, says Katy Golden, Holly’s Downtown Development Authority director, and the assistant village manager. “They talk about there being a Cari Stamp,” says Golden. “It’s kind of just bringing everything up a notch like the mural on her cafe and her flair for details.” Cucksey was recruited for the village’s DDA board and made the head of Main Street promotion team. Golden says there’s renewed interest in taking advantage of DDA matching grants to make facade improvements. One shop owner plans to replace tired cedar shake shingles with a rollout awning after finding the original in a basement. “Cari has done so much to her buildings with the renovation and other improvements, and now it seems like the other business owners are following suit,” Golden said. Iafano credits Holly for being an easy community to work with. Since they arrived in 2015, the occupancy rate for the downtown district — which has about 70 storefronts — has climbed to nearly 100 percent. “Being in construction, there was a lot of towns or cities I worked in. Sometimes they made it a little difficult on you, but over here they really embraced us and really wanted our suggestions,” Iafano said. The two are already thinking about additional projects they would like to tackle in Holly. Whatever the future holds, Cucksey and Iafano know they will embrace it together. “I’ve got a construction background and she has a creative background so the two really work hand-in-hand together.” WWW.RETAILERS.COM OCT / NOV 2019



Want a peek into the future of payment processing? Looking out on the payments landscape and working on projects with various members of the Michigan Retailers Association has created a peek into the future of payments.

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

What’s next? Emailed checks, facial recognition and more.

REFUNDS NEED AUTHORIZATIONS? Recently, Visa announced a significant change in the way that they will be handling refunds. Ever since the card associations created these pieces of plastic that we carry in our wallets, the act of “returning” a purchase has not been a real-time authorization transaction. The thinking was, no one steals a card and then returns a purchase for a credit to that stolen card. While this is still true, this fall we’ll start seeing authorizations on refunds. This is because we are making the consumer transaction experience friendlier. Gone will be the day where you have to explain to a customer that the refund could take 3-5 days to show up in their account. With the new transactional systems in place, the consumer will be able to see, real time, a pending “refund” on their smart phone app linked to their card accounts. This should reduce the consumer complaints and negative card usage experiences. ARE CHECKS DEAD YET? Recently, while working on a project, we revisited the concept of check writing and using that to pay someone for money owed to them (think expense accounts and such). A Michigan-based entrepreneur has developed a way to email a check to someone for payment. This is the result of changes to the law regarding what is a legal check and how it can be presented to a bank

or credit union for deposit. You now have the ability to buy a “book” of checks and use them to pay people or companies for money owed. This can be done via logging into a website, using an app on your phone, or programing it into your technology suite via an API. The long-term benefit is that you can speed up delivery of the check to the person who is to receive it and eliminate most of the cost associated with producing and mailing a check. THE FACE OF THE FUTURE Some international payment channels are experimenting with using facial recognition for payments. Payment channels in China have deployed facial recognition systems at the point of sale, as a way to eliminate the need to swipe or dip a card to complete a payment. While this is very early in the testing phase, there are at least a thousand merchant locations participating in the test of this payment vehicle. Only time will tell whether it is successful or goes into the dustbin of ideas that didn’t make it to market. As always, Michigan Retailers Association is working hard to make sure that you have the payment tools necessary to grow your business. If you have questions about any of these marketplace changes or anything else, please reach out to our customer service team at 800.563.5981 option 2.

MRA’s health insurance experts take the hassle out of group health insurance. GET A QUOTE

Call 800.366.3699 ext. 681 Email anemetz@retailers.com

Open enrollment for health coverage starts Nov.1! 10


MRA provides health, dental, vision, life and disability insurances.

Experts offer tips on how to avoid disability in workplace complaints By SHANDRA MARTINEZ

interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired.

Nearly 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an increasing number of employers are finding themselves on the wrong side of this federal law.

Often scenarios that lead to EEOC complaints can be avoided by an employer’s willingness to engage, in good faith, in a dialog with the employee to explore accommodation options, says Carol A. Laughbaum, a Bloomfield Hills attorney who specializes in workplace discrimination cases.

In the last 20 years, there has been a dramatic uptick in disability in the workplace claims nationwide filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. In fiscal year 2018, there were 24,605 claims, reflecting a 38% hike. The size of the monetary benefits is growing as well. Last year, settlements from cases topped $136.5 million, a 156% jump since 1998. In Michigan last year, there were 846 charges of disability discrimination in the workplace, up 29% from 2009. Employers with 15 or more workers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees or job applicants with disabilities unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are usually done to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment,” says Joseph J. Olivares, an EEOC spokesman. He added that reasonable accommodation might include making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or

Federal law requires employers to engage in “good faith” in an “interactive process” with the employee to try to come up with a suitable accommodation that addresses the employee’s disability and does not impose an undue hardship to the employer. “So the key is the employer attempting to work with the employee and making the effort to accommodate him or her. The employer is not required to simply adopt the first suggestion for accommodation proposed by the employee, but rather to engage in a dialog to try to come up with a solution that works for both parties,” Laughbaum said. “It is not enough that an employer simply goes through the motions, the employer needs to show it is really making good faith efforts to accommodate the employee.” Accommodations that result in a less distinguished title, lower pay, or fewer hours are more likely to raise red flags with the EEOC. “It is also important that the employer document its interactive process, keeping a record of the efforts made to accommodate the employee,” she said. “Timeliness is also important. An employer’s undue delay in responding to an employee’s request for accommodation can itself be a failure to accommodate.”

Five case studies of recent ADA violations A long-time employee had psoriatic arthritis and worked as a cashier at self-scan checkout area. His supervisor reassigned him elsewhere, saying he wasn’t efficient. The employee provided a doctor’s note about his condition and physical limitations. In response, his employer offered him the option of a part-time position with a pay cut and no benefits or face termination. EEOC says the employer should have been willing to consider proposed accommodations such

as using a stool in the checkout lane or a different position that didn’t require standing for long periods of time. A man with left-sided par a l ys i s w h o wore a brace on his left arm applied for a position at a store. After being interviewed, he was offered the position but was told that he could not start work until a few weeks later. However, he was never placed on the schedule and never actually worked for the company, despite his efforts to pursue a

start date. During this same time, the company continued to hire other non-disabled individuals to work as customer service representatives at the same store. Federal law says an employer can’t not hire someone because of their disability. A retailer allowed an employee w h o w a s h i re d as a stock person to work as a cashier as a reasonable accommodation for her back impairment. A few months later, after learning her restrictions were p e r m a n e nt , s h e wa s

fired. Federal law says an employer can’t reverse a decision to provide reasonable accommodations. A retailer hired a heari n g - i m p a i re d employee but didn’t allow her to receive orientation or start work for several months. The company claimed she could not complete its orientation process since its videos lacked closed captioning for the hearing-impaired. The EEOC says the employer should have considered other ways to accommodate

the employee. An employee with generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder asked to use her service dog at work. She was denied and then fired in retaliation for her accommodation request. EEOC says employers must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of their jobs.



In her own words Raeann Rouse, owner of Bridge Street Baby in Rockford.

Bridge Street Baby Opened: 2017 MRA member since: 2017 Address: 36 E. Bridge St., Rockford MI Specialties: Newborn to 24-month clothing, gifts accessories and decor Owner: Raeann Rouse Services: Bankcard


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

Raeann Rouse, owner of Bridge Street Baby, grew up in the retail world. Her parents both owned businesses. Her mother has owned JT Stitchery (also an MRA member) for 30 years, a yarn shop, right next door in downtown Rockford. Her father, now a consultant, owned two tool and die companies in town. “I always knew that owning my own business is what I wanted to do. My parents both owned their own businesses and I knew that this is the path I wanted to go. Timing was everything,” Rouse said. The timing was perfect. Rockford was in need of a new baby-related store after a similar baby gifts and accessories store, closed its doors. Rouse recognized the need for a baby store in Rockford and in November 2017, Rouse opened up Bridge Street Baby. Raeann Rouse shares her story of chasing her dreams and doing what you love. People come in... …weekly and say that there are just no more baby stores anymore. With baby gifts, they want to touch and feel what they are buying.



Scenes from Bridge Street Baby, including a cute customer, Louis Antonio Chen, three months old.

They don’t want to just buy generic. We get quite a bit of traffic out of Grand Rapids but we have so many loyal customers in the area, especially in Rockford. I love seeing the grandparents come in and buying things to spoil their grandbabies. When it comes to trends... …it’s hard to choose one because they come in waves. For a long time people were finding out what they were having and now we’re back in the trend of nobody finding out. We have to stock up on a lot of gender neutral clothing. We’ll go six months and not have anyone finding out and the next six months everyone will be. We carry sizing from newborn to 24-months. I do have customers come in and say they are growing out of my store in sizing. I debate going up in size because once toddlers hit a certain age, they start to have an opinion on what they wear. I’d love to eventually grow the store in size. Right now we have 600 square feet and I have hopes of expanding the store and then possibly expanding in sizes. I pick the items that come in the store. I go to a market right outside of Chicago, the Midwest Children’s Market, and I buy there. I have quite a few mom-companies I work with, some out of Rockford. I also found some Michigan-based Etsy businesses. I love supporting other small businesses, especially the mom businesses. We market on Facebook and Instagram, but I don’t have a website. I post daily and I do sell through Facebook. People will comment or ask if I have a product and then I will ship them out to them, but again, people want to feel and touch the gift and know what they are giving. But, I do see that just by staying active and having a presence on social media, it helps. I was born and raised in Rockford. A benefit of owning a business where you live is watching the growth and the change in Rockford, but also knowing the other business owners and loyal customers and people in general. Rockford is just such a great community and such a tight-knit community. It’s a big town, but has a small town, homey, family-feel when it comes to downtown. When customers know that this is my store and they know me, they want to come back. I had an old school teacher come in and didn’t realize I owned it before walking in. When she realized it was me, she was so excited. I can also walk to work and I love that about Rockford. The most important thing... ...I learned from my parents is to stay true to yourself and to your business. And to always take care of your customers.




MRA puts out legislative fires On the heels of attending a conference of state retail associations in Montana, I was able to spend some time in Glacier National Park and learned about the many forest fires that happen each year in our national parks. It’s quite shocking to see thousands of acres of blackened trees and how long it takes for the forest to regrow. All from a quick strike of lightning or a careless campsite fire.

AMY DRUMM MRA Vice President, Government Affairs Contact Amy at adrumm@retailers.com

You never know when or where the next spark might occur or how many acres of forest a wellintentioned bad idea might burn down.

It got me thinking: A forest fire is a good analogy for legislation and what happens at the Michigan Capitol. You never know when or where the next spark might occur or how many acres of forest it will burn down. This all ties in with one of my favorite phrases when it comes to legislation, “well-intended bad ideas.” I could use this column to list all the bills and ideas that fall into that category but I don’t want to make enemies with our friends at the Capitol and our editor tells me I only get about 500 words (and that simply wouldn’t be enough). So instead I want to stress how much time we spend monitoring, tracking and discussing legislation that DOESN’T become law. It’s our act of putting out the legislative fires that have the potential to destroy retail businesses. It would be exaggerating to say that every spark of a well-intentioned bad idea has the potential to put retailers out of business, but collective small fires can cause an immense amount of damage. Sometimes members ask why we weigh in on these issues and it’s because we know that not every retail business runs the same way. One-size fits-all type legislation doesn’t work for every business in every corner of the state. And we don’t advocate for just one business, but all of our retail members. Through the end of September, 1,850 bills and resolutions have been introduced. That’s an average of 6.7 bills and resolutions for every single day this calendar

Why our PAC?

Let’s take a look at a bill introduced just last week that would mandate employers provide employees with a set schedule at least 14 days in advance. It might sound like a good idea to an employee who never gets sick, has no kids, has no ailing parents, isn’t in school, doesn’t play school sports, doesn’t have a second job, never wants to pick up extra hours and never has any last-minute changes. Do you have those employees? Are they the only ones working for you? In states where similar laws have been debated seriously, employees spoke up loud and clear that these rigid requirements simply don’t work for them. They don’t know their schedule that far in advance and they want the flexibility to pick up extra shifts, call in sick, trade shifts with a coworker, and just live their lives. As the employer, imagine trying to prefill those schedules weeks in advance, being forced to pay time and a half if you need to change them for any reason and then being required to keep scheduling shift records for seven years that must be produced on demand to a state agency. Welcome to a prime example of a wellintentioned bad idea. HELP US KEEP WATER IN THE TANKS MRA’s job is to act as the shield for retailers in Michigan. We’ll go out on the limb, in the lightning storm and try to put out the fires that pop up while keeping an eye on the sky for the next strike. You can help us prepare for the next fire by contributing to MRA PAC. MRA PAC helps support lawmakers and candidates who understand the unique challenges retailers face every day. They’re the ones who are willing to listen and work with us when we identify these “well-intentioned bad ideas.” If we don’t have enough water to help put out the fires that start, retailers are the ones who will ultimately get burned.

Consider donating to the MRA political action committee. Why?

Name ___________________________________________________

• We advocate on your behalf for open markets and fewer regulations.

Company _________________________________________________

• We work hard to block legislation that would create complicated local regulations.

Mail check and form to:

• We’ve had big legislative wins, including stopping product bans, repealing item pricing and passing Main Street Fairness.


year. How many of those do you think are great ideas?


Occupation _______________________________________________ _________________________________________________

Michigan Retailers Association Attn.: PAC 603 South Washington Ave. Lansing, MI 48933

NOTE: State law prohibits the use of corporate checks or credit cards. Make checks out to MRA PAC. To pay by credit card, go to retailers.com/advocacy/pac. DONATIONS $100 & up require you to list occupation & employer information; please enter it in the Company field.

Buy Nearby Weekend 2019




2 Our mascot got around during Buy Nearby Weekend 2019. Buy Nearby Guy’s new friends include, clockwise from top left: 1. Dawn Reyburn, right, who owns The Rustic Roof in Cedar Springs. She is with her dad Dale Reyburn, son Devin Longoria and daughter in-law Kendra Longoria. 2. A friend at CoCo Blue, in Lansing’s Old Town. 3. Santa Claus joins Buy Nearby Guy at Frankenmuth’s River Place Shops. 4. Buy Nearby Guy gets a hug at the Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival in Caro. 5. Frankenmuth shoppers pose with our guy. 6. The pumpkin decorating contest in Tuscola County. 7. Buy Nearby fans at Great Lakes Art and Gifts in Lansing’s Old Town. 8. Yep, that’s a real live skunk, in Cedar Springs. 9. Charlotte business owners turned out for Buy Nearby Weekend. 10. A fan of Buy Nearby Guy in Lansing’s REO Town.







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Clement Michigan Retailer Feb., April, June, Aug., Oct., Dec.

3 4 5 78 0




603 S. Washington Ave., Lansing (Ingham County), MI 48933-2381

continued from page 5

knowledge of issues involving the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. We’re thrilled to welcome him to MRA.” Clement has formerly served on the State Bar of Michigan’s Criminal Jurisprudence and Practice Committee and the state of Michigan’s Community Corrections Board. He is a current member of a Supreme Court and Attorney General joint task force on elder abuse.

603 S. Washington Ave., Lansing (Ingham County), MI 48933-2381

William J. Hallan, 603 S. Washington Ave., Lansing MI 48933-2381 Meegan Holland, 603 S. Washington Ave., Lansing MI 48933-2381 N/A

Michigan Retailers Association

603 S. Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48933

“My goal is to help MRA build on its reputation for stability, ethical business practices and passionate advocacy for retailers.” - Tom Clement “My goal is to help MRA build on its reputation for stability, ethical business practices and passionate advocacy for retailers,” said Clement. “It’s difficult to leave the Supreme Court, but I’m intrigued by MRA’s ability to help businesses ranging from start-ups to established corporations.” Clement received a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University and a Juris Doctorate from the Michigan State University College of Law. He lives in East Lansing with his wife, Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, and their four children.

Michigan Retailer

August 2019















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4,440 97.29




4,400 96.44

Follow us on social media

Are you following Michigan Retailers Association and Buy Nearby on social media? If not, you might be missing valuable news and fun photos! Here is how to find us on social media: Michigan Retailers • Facebook – fb.com/MichiganRetailers • Twitter - @MichRetail Buy Nearby • Facebook – fb.com/BuyNearbyMI • Twitter - @BuyNearbyMI • Instagram - @mibuynearby Retailers Insurance Company • Facebook – fb.com/RetailersInsurance

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

Open enrollment is coming The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for individual health care coverage is from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 for a coverage effective date of Jan. 1, 2020. There are no extensions on the enrollment period for the 2020 coverage year as there have been in the past few years. For our small-employer members who don’t have a group health plan option, inform your employees of the impending OEP period. Also, pass along our contact information, as we can provide help to anyone looking for individual coverage. Contact Ally Nemetz at (800) 366.3699, ext. 681 or anemetz@retailers.com.

Get a quote today

Email sales@retailers.com or call 800.366.3699


Holiday safety continued from page 3

hazards in high-traffic areas and fire hazards if they’re stapled to walls or connected to another cord. FOOD SAFETY Don’t you just love holiday potlucks? Unless someone gets food poisoning and everyone’s trying to guess who’s responsible. When publicizing the potluck, make sure to lay out where employees can plug in crock pots or other dishes that should stay warm. USDA recommends cooking raw beef, pork, lamb and veal to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F; raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to an internal temperature of 160° F; and all poultry items to a minimum internal temperature of 165° F. Any dishes that have been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours should be refrigerated. Cold foods should be 40° F or colder. Keep foods cold by placing dishes in bowls of ice or by serving in small batches and replenishing from the refrigerator as needed. Have a co-worker with a food allergy? Try to accommodate their needs as part of your holiday spirit! PARTIES Set an example to employees by not over-imbibing at any afterhours gatherings. At a company party, have a strategy for employees who overdo - whether it’s a designated driver or transportation vouchers.



Richard’s Clothing (989) 734-3676

245 N. Third St., Rogers City, MI 49779

Fixtures - Glass Display Cases Mannequins - Hangers - Shoe Racks Cash Registers - Marking Equipment AND MUCH MORE!!!

Call for an appointment: (989) 734-3676 WWW.RETAILERS.COM OCT / NOV 2019


catch-all drawer The

RIC AGENT WINS NATIONAL AWARD Scott Shappee, a Monroe insurance agent, has won the Professional of the Year award from the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents. Shappee is vice president of sales at Insurance Center of Monroe, an agency where his grandfather, dad and uncles all worked. The plan is he’ll be the third generation to run the agency. Meanwhile, he’s the top-selling agent with a book of more than $2.5 million in premium. He’s also involved with marketing the agency particularly through social media. Shappee’s involvement with the Michigan Association of Professional Insurance Agents (MIPIA) is one of the reasons he was awarded the national honor. He’s held several positions with MIPIA, including president, and now serves as its technology committee chair. RENEW YOUR DUES ONLINE We’ve made it easier than ever to renew your annual membership dues. After receiving your renewal notice through the mail prior to your anniversary date, gather your Member ID and Invoice number, shown on the notice. You can then complete your membership information at Retailers.com/product/renewmembership. On this same site, you can also donate to our philanthropic initiatives: • The MRA Foundation, which will award 26 scholarships for the 2020-21 school year, helping students currently working in retail or dependents of store owners; and • The Buy Nearby program, which provides informative materials to business owners encouraging shoppers to keep their money in the Mitten! AL KESSEL AWARDS Busch’s Fresh Food Market and H.T. Hackney are the 2019 Al Kessel Outstanding Achievement Award winners. The award memorializes former Michigan Grocers Association Director Albert “Al” Kessel, Jr., who founded the Flint-based Kessel Food Market chain. To reflect his generous spirit, one Outstanding Retailer and one Outstanding Business Partner are honored with the award each year. “Both Busch’s Fresh Food Market and H.T. Hackney make significant contributions to Michigan’s grocery industry,” says MRA President & CEO William J. Hallan. “They have earned the respect and admiration of colleagues and customers throughout the state and beyond. These awards are well-deserved recognition.” Outstanding Retailer Busch’s Fresh Food Market and Outstanding Business Partner H.T. Hackney were honored during the opening night of the annual Food Retailers Summit on Sept. 25 at Crystal Mountain Resort. 18


Tidbits to make business easier

LABOR DEPARTMENT RELEASES FINAL OT RULE The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule on Sept. 24 to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay. The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements and allows employers to count a portion of certain bonuses/ commissions towards meeting the salary level. The final rule: (1) Raises the “standard salary level” from $455 to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a fullyear worker); (2) Raises the total annual compensation level for highly compensated employees from $100,000 to $107,432 per year; (3) Allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive pay to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level; and (4) Revises the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories. The final rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. SBDC OFFERS ON-DEMAND WEBINAR LIBRARY If you can’t make the excellent weekly live webinars produced by the Small Business Development Corp. of Michigan, there’s a solution! You can sign up for their on-demand webinar library at http://bit.ly/2OlaYml. You’ll receive a link to access a set of webinars curated specifically for busy entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their business. One hour conversations focus on everything from the fundamentals of small business success to quick overviews of different business legal entities. You’ll find step-by-step tutorials of public services such as the Michigan Treasury Online.

MRA sponsors visual merchandising workshop

Rick Melahn, a longtime retailer known for increasing sales with his merchandising, provided great tips to workshop attendees at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing on Sept. 19. MRA partnered with the Old Town Commercial Association of Lansing to produce the workshop, which was open to all retailers.


2 3

Jim Hallan retires...

...and a few of his friends came out to wish MRA’s CEO well on August 20. Clockwise from top left: 1. MRA Board Chair Becky Beauchine Kulka with past Board Chair Leonard Janssen and Jim Hallan 2. Dennis and Deb Muchmore 3. Tom Schweiss and MRA Board Member Dan Marshall 4. Supreme Court Justice Beth Clement, lawyer John Pirich and new MRA General Counsel Tom Clement (see page 5) 5. The band Starfarm 6. Diane Marshall and Beth Hallan 7. MRA Board Directors Joe McCurry, Jeff Joyce, Bill Golden and Barb Stein with Jim Hallan (second from left) 8. Former MRA CEO Larry Meyer with Karen and Steve Hess

8 7







Wheel of Fortune instant game taking players to Hollywood The Michigan Lottery’s instant games are favorites for avid and casual players. The chance to win big cash prizes instantly have made them a large part of the Lottery’s success with sales surpassing $1 billion the last two years.

BRIAN O’NEILL Lottery Commissioner

The Lottery continuously researches game concepts to identify those that will have the strongest appeal to players and maximize the outstanding performance of the instant game portfolio. The Lottery’s ongoing research shows that players are drawn to games that offer a second chance opportunity to win prizes. With that in mind, the Lottery has teamed up with Wheel of Fortune® to give players a second chance option offering the chance to win the trip of a lifetime. In addition to instant win prizes, players can enter non-winning ticket codes for a chance to win a trip to Hollywood to play “America’s Game.”

The Wheel of Fortune game offers the chance to win the trip of a lifetime.

Five lucky players will win an all-expenses paid VIP trip for two to Hollywood to participate in a Lottery players-only version of the Wheel of Fortune® Big Money Spin event and the chance to win up to $1 million. Winners will receive: • Two round-trip coach airfares to Los Angeles • Three nights deluxe hotel accommodations in Los Angeles • Ground transportation to and from the Los Angeles airport, hotel, and Sony Studios • Hollywood sightseeing tour for two • Tour of Sony Studios for two • Tickets to watch a taping of Wheel of Fortune in the live studio audience • Participation in the Big Money Spin event • $500 spending money We expect the chance to win up to $50,000 and this game’s unique second-chance opportunity to generate excitement with players and increase traffic for retailers. NEW INSTANT TICKETS: These tickets go on sale Oct. 1:



IG 308 - 7-11-21 Tripler - $1 IG 315 - Wheel of Fortune - $2 IG 321 - Emerald 10’s - $10 INSTANT GAMES SET TO EXPIRE: Oct. 7 IG 208 - $1,000,000 Gems - $10 IG 219 - Bonus Cashword - $3 Nov. 4 IG 240 - Stocking Stuffer - $1 IG 241 - Unwrap the Cash - $2 IG 242 - Holiday Magic - $5 IG 243 - Holiday Gems - $10 IG 244 - Triple Bonus Cashword - $10 NEW PULL TABS TICKETS: These tickets go on sale Oct. 1: MI 554 - Ca$h Cannon - $1 MI 561 - Break the Bank - $2 PULL TABS GAMES SET TO EXPIRE: Oct. 15 MI 509 - Stampeded Gold - $1 Nov. 12 MI 507 - Brews on First - $1 MI 520 - Jumpin’ Jack Cash - $2 TICKET ACTIVATION Retailers are reminded to activate all game tickets before putting them on sale to ensure winning tickets may be redeemed by players. 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. In the 2018 fiscal year, the Lottery provided more than $941.3 million for Michigan’s public schools, its fourth record contribution in a row. Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed more than $22 billion to support public education in Michigan. For additional information, follow the Michigan Lottery on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and online at www.michiganlottery.com.

New Members Roof Seal Inc., Ada MV Transport LLC, Adrian L and C Farms LLC, Allenton Sippin in the Mitten LLC, Almont Burt Forest Products Co., Ann Arbor A-1 Snow Removal and Lawn Care Inc., Ann Arbor Fink & Fink PLLC, Ann Arbor Jimco Fire Protection Inc., Au Gres Big Will Trucking LLC, Auburn Hills MLG Enterprises LLC, Auburn Hills Meade Services LLC, Auburn Hills Lighthouse Cabinets LLC, Belmont Ceresnie & Offen Furs, Birmingham Great Lakes Car Carrier Inc., Burton MI Life Transport LLC, Cadillac Rudy Sherlund Inc., Cedarville Old Mill Designs Inc., Cedarville Rayco Logistics LLC, Clinton Township Krist Oil Company, Crystal Falls S S Moving & Delivery LLC, Detroit Tony V’s Tavern LLC, Detroit Gjergj’s Cafe and Grill LLC, Detroit Downtown Louies Inc., Detroit Waterfront Yacht Care LLC, Detroit EMK Ent LLC dba Auto Tech of East Tawas, East Tawas Antrev Recovery & Towing Inc., Fraser G & A Trucking Inc., Gaylord The Deltaplex, Grand Rapids Conveyability Inc., Grand Rapids Bolhouse Law Offices, Grandville Mitchell’s, Highland Charter Twp. The Holly Vault, Holly Ishpeming Public School District No 1, Ishpeming Sercombe Trucking Inc., Jackson Wallinwood Springs Golf Club Inc., Jenison Island Heat LLC, Kalamazoo Kandler Tool Co., Kalamazoo CT Electrical Services Inc., Kalamazoo Leo HC Group dba Woodland Acres, Kalamazoo Lansing Ventures Inc. dba ABC Liquor, Lansing Izet’s Trucking Inc., Livonia Novalux Inc. dba Stearns Hotel, Ludington Ludington Pier House Inc., Ludington Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Manistee MN Properties LLC dba Manistee Golf & Resort, Manistee Richardson Jewelers, Marquette Chapman & Myers CPAs PC, Marquette Humane Society of Midland County, Midland Family Counseling & Shelter Svcs of Monroe Cty, Monroe

KK McBee ENT LLC dba Pro Detail, Monroe Solid Waste Solutions Inc., Muskegon Kids Gotta Play Inc., New Hudson Pinny Pharmacy Inc., Pinconning Rufino’s Roofing & Things, Portage Antonio’s Cafe Inc., Rochester Banana Leaf Inc., Rochester Hills AMZ Ent Inc. dba Marinades Pizza Bistro, Rockford Lake Bella Vista Improvement Association, Rockford Lake Bella Vista Water Services, Rockford SC & J Transport Inc., Rogers City Infinite Communications Contractors LLC, Saint Clair Shores Saline Rotary Club, Saline Motor City Auto Transport Inc., Shelby Twp. Sweep Rite Inc., Sterling Heights Metro Direct Inc., Taylor Bhasin DDS PLLC, Taylor Trenary Toast Bakery Inc., Trenary Orange Dragin Productions LLC, Troy Global Express Transportation Inc., Troy CD Tool & Gages Inc., Walker St. Mary School, Williamston

We’ve got plans to cover all of yours. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network offers the complete insurance solution to protect the overall health and well-being of your employees. For more information, contact the Michigan Retailers Association at 517-372-5656 GROUP HEALTH PLANS | SPECIALTY BENEFITS | BCBSM.COM/EMPLOYERS



Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. R076108

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

Profile for Michigan Retailers Association

OCT/NOV 19 Michigan Retailer  

The October-November 2019 issue of Michigan Retailer, the official publication of Michigan Retailers Association.

OCT/NOV 19 Michigan Retailer  

The October-November 2019 issue of Michigan Retailer, the official publication of Michigan Retailers Association.