The Minnesota Retailers Association, the 56-year-old trade association, is updating its image and brand in order to reflect what it calls its ever-increasing role as spokesperson and representative of the rapidly changing retail community.
Steve Vandeputte, owner of Brothers Motorsports in Baxter, is a Minnesota Retailers Association board member. One of the association's missions is to represent the retail industry's interests with the state and the Legislature. Vandeputte said he hopes for greater awareness with consumers who may have an outdated image of the association if they think it is solely for hardware or grocery stores. The association encompasses a broad range of businesses from convenience stores to giant department stores.
Additionally, the association gives the collective group more clout than members would have alone when facing the demands of doing business whether that involves regulations on the use of plastic bags or sales tax increases, Vandeputte said. Either way, Vandeputte said, those types of issue affect consumers.
Changes include a new Web site, logo, tag line and color scheme. Association President Buzz Anderson, a former legislator who has led the organization since 2001, said in a news release the new logo and colors represent a more distinctive brand as the Minnesota Retailers Association is the only organization to speak exclusively on behalf of the retail industry.
For Vandeputte one of the association's goals is get power sports dealers recognized by the state so they can achieve the type of dealer protection that car dealerships have. Vandeputte said neighboring states afford power sports dealers varying degrees of protection the way they do car dealers where a manufacturer that severs the franchise relationship with a car dealer has to buy back the vehicles, parts and signs. Vandeputte said the one-year agreements, between power sports dealers mean manufacturers that dictate how many machines a dealer must take each year among other requirements, may be terminated at any time by the manufacturer who is not required to buy anything back.
Vandeputte said legislation to provide protection for power sports dealers passed the state Senate overwhelmingly last year, but didn't get through the House.
"I'm optimistic that we'll get something done this coming year," Vandeputte said. "I think a strong healthy profitable dealer can take care of the consumer a lot better and if we've got some law supporting us we can make better investments and grow our business and in the long run the consumer will benefit I'm convinced of it."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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