NRF’s Retail Advocates Town Hall convenes small business owners and members of Congress

Marking Hispanic Heritage Month, retailers discussed issues including supply chain challenges

NRF convened Hispanic-owned small businesses and retailers from across the country at a Retail Advocates Town Hall on September 30 with leading members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Taking place in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, the town hall featured three leading Caucus members for discussions on issues impacting Hispanic-owned retailers including supply chain challenges, payments cost reduction and immigration reform.

Retail Advocates Town Halls

Learn more about NRF Retail Advocates Town Hall events and what they do for small businesses.

“Latino-owned small businesses are the backbone of our communities and the fastest-growing business segment,” said Representative Norma Torres, D-Calif., in praising the contributions of Hispanic-owned businesses. Torres joined fellow caucus members Representative Lou Correa, D-Calif., and Representative Darren Soto, D-Fla., in addressing nearly 60 participants during the town hall.

Top of mind among congressional speakers were disruptions and challenges affecting the global supply chains that retailers rely on to meet customers’ needs. “Supply chains have been developed over many years and are very complicated,” said Correa, whose district in Southern California is near two of the world’s largest ports at the center of the problem. He empowered retailers to “let Congress know what we need to do to keep the supplies moving.”

The town hall was cohosted by two LatinX retail leaders, Theresa Flores and Vivian Sayward, who weighed in on how disruptions in the supply chain impact their businesses. “A healthy infrastructure system and supply chain are critical,” said Flores, senior manager of public affairs with the Mary Kay Corporation. While Mary Kay manufactures products in the United States, its supply chain is “very integrated all over the world,” she said.

Retail Advocate Town Hall
Vivian Seyward, owner of Vivacity Sportswear in San Diego, Calif.

Sayward’s business, Vivacity Sportswear in San Diego, relies on imports from around the world to manufacture products for the women’s sportswear brand. “Being in California, I’ve seen the barges lined up and parked at the ports,” Sayward said.

The need for competition to reduce payments costs for retailers was also raised during the town hall. Soto called credit card fee reform “a big battle” and applauded the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it will clarify its rules allowing retailers to decide where to route debit card transactions for both in-store and online purchases.

“These fees are some of our mom-and-pop retailers’ heaviest burdens after wages and benefits,” Torres said. “I support competition that benefits the consumer.”

All speakers were united in their support of immigration reform and the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, a bill supported by NRF that will provide certainty and stability to millions of Dreamers and the economy. “We need a permanent fix for immigration,” Torres said. “These people are not just workers — they are shoppers and front-line workers.”

The importance of vaccinations was also discussed as part of the solution for economic recovery. “I appreciate retailers’ efforts to get employees vaccinated,” Soto said.

NRF is hosting another Retail Advocates Town Hall on Wednesday, October 20, 2-3:30 p.m. The theme of the event is “From Retail to Representative” and will highlight the stories of members of Congress who pivoted their retail background or career into public service.

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