In June of 2022, Lisa-Marie opened an e-mail saying that the folks at the National Retail Federation wanted to chat with us via zoom. At the end of the zoom call, Lisa-Marie had been invited to the NRF Retail Advocates Summit in Washington DC as a Small Business Champion Honoree. A few weeks later, we (Lisa-Marie, Andy & I (Marie!!)) packed our bags to head to our nation’s capital.
Masked up and ready to fly!
We met up with Curtis – the president of the Retail Association of Maine, and our Portland neighbor, Tom – one of the owners of Old Port Card Company and Old Port Candy Co.
While traveling to DC, Tom was representing Maine with his throwback Bangor & Aroostook railroad t-shirt from another Portland neighbor, Joseph’s.
Lisa-Marie was wearing her Casco Tote made from reclaimed sails. (We have them available at Lisa-Marie’s now!)
Early the next morning, we met up with Tom and Curtis for the breakfast for the attendees of the NRF summit. Two speakers addressed what they are doing in DC to advocate for the retail industries – especially swipe fees for credit cards – how to address the inflation we’re all experiencing, and the efforts being made to get more employees into the workforce.
After breakfast we went down to the exposition room to find our small display of goodies that we sent down as a sample of what kinds of products we sell at Lisa-Marie’s.
Along with some of our brochures we sent along a lobster rope basket filled with our True Blueberry Pancake and Waffle Mix, a travel size jar of Wild Blueberry Spread from Out on a Limb and a box of Wild Blueberry Green Tea from Bar Harbor Tea Company.
And of course, Andy (left) and Marie (me!, right) had to ham it up for some photo opportunities!
We represented Maine in full force!
And it was awesome to see that our ‘lil ol’ state o’ Maine has such an
impact on our entire country!
The afternoon was spent running around Capitol Hill visiting some of our Maine State Representatives. First up was Senator Angus King’s office.
Waiting in Senator King’s office we got to meet his office assistant working there for the summer who came from The County and we felt right at home surrounded by all the Maine memorabilia.
After leaving the Senate we took a walk in the 97 degree heat (with 90% humidity), and though we were feeling the sweat drip down our backs, we couldn’t help but snap a couple shots in front of the impressive Capitol.
After the photo-op pit-stop we made our way to the House where we met with Congressman Chellie Pingree’s staffer. We weren’t expecting to actually have any time with Ms. Pingree but she surprised us and we were grateful she took time out of her busy day to listen to our concerns.
That evening we went to the Award Ceremony for America’s Small Business Champion which was accompanied by a delicious dinner. The highlight of the evening was supporting Curtis as he awarded the J Thomas Weyant Award to the State Retail Executive of the year. Curtis received the award in 2018, the last time that the NRF Retail Summit met. Curtis absolutely deserves every bit of recognition that he gets.
The entire day was a whirlwind and we all feel so grateful for the whole experience. Being able to represent our home state in Washington DC and speak to policy makers about issues affecting retailers – especially small businesses here in Maine – was a true honor. Major thanks to Curtis and the entire Retail Association of Maine team. They work tirelessly in stressful situations to support the retail economy of Maine.
If you are a retail business in Maine and you aren’t already a part of the Retail Association of Maine, we urge you to consider it. The connections opened to us because of our relationship with RAM have created opportunities we never would have had without them. The Retail Association of Maine, created by retailers for retailers, keeps its members on top of business issues and trends through direct and frequent communications from staff, weekly legislative email updates, action alerts and a quarterly newsletter. They also organize a variety of events to help your network and grow your business. You should definitely check them out and consider becoming a member. Come be one of the cool kids!
One of the greatest parts about this trip was being able to do this as a family.
For the three of us to share this trip together was like a throwback to 35 years ago. I was born in Fairfax, Virginia while Andy was working in Crystal City and we lived in Alexandria. Revisiting some of the old stomping grounds together was a fun experience for sure.
The absolute best part of this trip for me was seeing Andy reunite with his childhood best friend, Sean. They were military brats together and have known each other for over 50 years. We were able to squeeze in a dinner with him and his daughters when we first arrived (we were too busy having too much fun to take any photos), and Sean picked us up for one final breakfast before we headed back to the airport. Watching my parents be able to share a drink with their long-time best friend was the cherry on top of this DC sundae.