The Michigan Grocers Association (MGA) and the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) are combining operations effective Jan. 1, 2018. Michigan Grocers will become a division of the Michigan Retailers Association.
With the change, MGA President and CEO Linda M. Gobler, who has been an advocate for the retail food industry for 32 years, will retire but remain a consultant to the association.
“This move allows me to step back and yet feel confident that our members will not only be well‐served, but also have access to increased benefits,” Gobler said.
MGA and MRA believe that by joining together “they provide an even stronger voice for members concerned about sales taxes, recycling policy, food safety and more.” Both groups are known as advocacy leaders at the Capitol in Lansing.
James P. Hallan, president and CEO of MRA, said, “The interests of the two organizations align on many issues, so this is a wonderfully logical pairing.”
In recent years the associations successfully worked together to eliminate item-pricing requirements and ensure a level playing field between remote sellers and Michigan businesses.
Gobler said she expects the move to MRA to be seamless, especially since MGA staff will stay on, and the popular monthly Michigan Food News publication will continue to inform members.
“Our strength has been legislative and regulatory representation, and that won’t change,” added Gobler, who was honored by the Food Marketing Institute for government relations excellence in 2013.
MRA is the largest state retail association in the nation, representing more than 15,000 stores and e-commerce websites across the state. It provides its members with legislative advocacy, competitive credit card processing, workers compensation insurance and other cost‐saving benefits. Similar to its merger with MGA, MRA has joined forces in the past with the Michigan Retail Hardware Association, Michigan Shoe Association, Michigan Jewelers Association and Michigan Tire and Vehicle Association.
MGA represents hundreds of supermarkets, grocers, eat‐at‐home food businesses, gourmet and convenience stores in addition to drug and pet food retailers. Associate members range from manufacturers to wholesalers and equipment companies. Recent legislative victories include revising the food stamp distribution system, updating liquor laws, and working to improve comprehensive recycling in Michigan. The group works closely with the Department of Agriculture on food safety regulations.