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America's Retail Champions

America's Retail Champions

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NRF's America's Retail Champions program celebrates Main Street retailers who advocate on behalf of the industry. The program offers up to 50 small U.S. retailers a complimentary trip to Washington D.C. for the Retail Advocates Summit, where they are recognized at a special reception and meet face-to-face with policymakers to share what's important to them and how legislative decisions are affecting their business. Retail Champions are Main Street business owners who are community leaders and strong retail industry advocates at all levels of government.

For more information, please contact Meghan Keivel.

America's Retail Champion of the Year 2018

Americas Retail Champion 2018 Lisa Mergel

Lisa Mergel (center) was named America's Retail Champion 2018.

Florida retailer Lisa Mergel was honored as America’s Retail Champion of the Year at the 2018 Retail Advocates Summit.

Mergel is the owner of Kanvas, a boutique day spa and beauty products store in Tallahassee that she opened in 2007. The business has 10 employees and offers an internship program for Florida State University students studying retail business and merchandising.

“Lisa’s track record speaks for itself,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “She’s an integral member of the Florida Retail Federation and a mentor to college students pursuing a career in the industry. And she has led the charge in advancing critical policy initiatives important to the retail sector at both the state and federal levels.”

This year's finalists

Sean Brownlee – Ravenox

Sean Brownlee, Ravenox (Burlington, NC) 

Tom Largay

Tom Largay, Old Port Card Works (Portland, Maine)

Nicole Panettieri

Nicole Panettieri, The Brass Owl Boutique (Asotria, NY)

Americas Retail Champion 2018 Linda Taylor

Linda Taylor, VK Electronics (McCook, NE) 

Mergel was chosen from a group of finalists that included Sean Brownlee of Ravenox, Nicole Panettieri of The Brass Owl, Tom Largay of Old Port Cards and Linda Taylor of VK Electronics

Over 40 retailers from across the nation ranging from online sellers to small and mid-size store owners were nominated by state retail associations and their peers based on engagement in public policy discussions at the local, state and national level.

Watch the video below to learn more about the finalists and winner.

Meet the 2018 Champions

America's Retail Champion of the Year 2017

Trudy Trombley

Trudy Trombley (center) was named Champion of the Year in 2017.

Trudy Trombley, owner of Truly Trudy’s Boutique in Stowe, Vt., was named the 2017 America’s Retail Champion of the Year at NRF’s annual Retail Advocates Summit.

“Trudy is a strong grassroots advocate and a leader in the retail industry who ensures that retail’s voice is heard on a wide range of policy discussions," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “By being involved at all levels of government, she helps advance the public policy agenda for retailers, their employees and customers in her community.” 

Trombley was selected from a group of five finalists who included Amber Gustafson of Amber’s Designs Fine Jewelry in Katy, Texas; Ken Keiran of Union Farm Equipment in Union, Maine; Jeff Erb of Saneholtz-McKarnsbin in Montpelier, Ohio, and Bill Golden of Golden Shoes in Traverse, Mich. Watch the video to learn more about the finalists.

More than 100 retailers from small and mid-size store owners to online sellers were nominated by state retail associations and their peers based on engagement in public policy discussions on issues ranging from patent reform and online sales tax to data security and labor policy

America's Retail Champion of the Year 2016

America's Retail Champion of the Year 2016

Gary Cammack (center) was named Champion of the Year in 2016.

Gary Cammack, owner of Cammack Ranch Supply in Union Center, S.D., was named the 2016 America’s Retail Champion of the Year at NRF’s annual Retail Advocates Summit.

“Gary is a true grassroots advocate and as a leader in the retail industry, he ensures that retail’s voice is heard in a wide range of policy discussions," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “By staying involved with all levels of government, Gary is helping to advance the public policy agenda for retailers, their employees and customers in communities large and small across America.” Read more about the 2016 program.

Cammack started his ranch supply business over 40 years ago, with his sons later following suit in their own business endeavors. NRF visited the Cammack family as part of Retail Across America's 2014 road trip in South Dakota to see how retailers work in niche markets to provide consumers with unique products and services. Watch the video and check out more retail stories from South Dakota.

More past winners


Erin Calvo-Bacci, owner of The Chocolate Truffle and Bacci Chocolate Design in Massachusetts, was named America’s Retail Champion of the Year at Retail Advocates Summit in July 2015.

Calvo-Bacci was chosen from five finalists who included Marc Sherman of Stowe Mercantile in Stowe, Vt.; Michael Thompson of Thompson Pool and Patio in Norman, Okla.; Tina Wilcoxson of Royal River Natural Food in Freeport, Maine, and George Wilder of The Locker Room in Montgomery, Ala.

"This means a great deal to me because I am very passionate about getting involved in this industry and really want to make a difference," said Calvo-Bacci. "All of us retailers here tonight are the ones who are going to make changes, we are all here to be the change for our industry." Read more about the 2015 ARC program.


Art Potash, owner of Potash Markets in Chicago, was named America’s Retail Champion of the Year for his exceptional advocacy and leadership on behalf of the retail industry. 

“While Art is focused day-to-day on his family grocery stores, he is passionate about the broader retail industry,” Illinois Retail Merchants Association President and CEO Rob Karr said. “As generously as Art gives of his time and resources to those in need, he does the same for his fellow retailers. It doesn’t matter if the issue is in the city of Chicago or Springfield, Illinois or Washington, D.C.; Art is a passionate advocate on any issue confronting retail.” Read more in NRF’s press release.

In addition to his active involvement in city, state and federal issues, Potash is also passionate about the positive impact of family-owned businesses. NRF visited Potash Markets in Chicago during Retail Across America’s road trip in Illinois. Being in the retail industry “means a lot more when you’re working for yourself and when you get to leave a legacy,” Potash says. “It’s rewarding and a blessing to own your own business and make an impact. It’s the American Dream.”  Learn more and watch the series.

Retail Across America
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We set out on a road trip to find the most powerful retail stories across the United States, showing how retailers large and small are creating jobs, driving innovation and giving back to the communities they serve. This is Retail Across America.

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