Introducing MRA’s Retail Ambassador Program

Ensuring the voices of Michigan retailers are heard in Lansing and Washington, DC is one of Michigan Retailers Association’s prime reasons for establishment nearly 100 years ago. To further that cause, MRA has launched its new Retail Ambassador program. 

Who is eligible to be an Ambassador?

The Retail Ambassador program is designed to be an opportunity for upcoming leaders to become more active, visible members of the retail community. Designed for retailers, specifically entrepreneurs, regional/store managers, and second generation leaders in retail businesses, each two-year class will receive media training, opportunities to meet lawmakers and regulators – and have a group of people to bounce ideas off of, and who all understand the ups and downs of being in the retail industry. 

What does being an Ambassador involve? 

The best messengers of what it takes to run a retail business are the people that do it everyday, so we are proud to have retailers stand up and speak out for the needs of the retail community with legislators in Lansing and Washington, as well as with local media. Before any media interviews or legislative meetings, MRA team members work with Ambassadors to prepare – making sure no one walks in unprepared. 

When and where do Ambassadors have responsibilities? 

Being an Ambassador is an everyday commitment, but it’s not because MRA is asking for that. As a retailer leader, our Ambassadors exemplify the spirit of our industry everyday. MRA and the current class of Ambassadors meet once a month in either a virtual or in-person format. As part of our annual Capitol Day, Ambassadors will take part in meetings with their Senators or Representatives, as well as the legislative reception hosted by MRA in Lansing. 

Why have Ambassadors? 

The need for the Ambassador program became more clear this year with the results of the election. With the leadership in Lansing changing, the need to understand the issues that face retailers became more clear. What is it like to balance the books or manage employees at a small business, and deal with the large volume of unknowns, from rising prices to broken supply chains? Things retailers deal with every day. 

Our first class of leaders includes representatives from nearly all of MRA’s divisions: grocers, hardware, shoes and floor coverings.

Chris Copp (Hardware), Carson City Lumber, Carson City

Arianna Meinke (Grocery), Leppink’s, Belding

Pete Birchler (Retail), Marshall Music, Lansing

Corey Kennedy (Grocery), Polly’s Country Market, Chelsea

Paige Smith (Shoes), Golden Shoes, Traverse City 

Owen Keenoy (Shoes), Orange Insoles, Okemos

Jeff Maloney (Flooring), Maloney’s Carpet One, Lansing

Julia Kepler (Retail), Serendipity Road, Midland