Retailers push Congress for added PPP flexibility and other coronavirus legislation.
When the Home Furnishings Association published its first blog post on the coronavirus Feb. 4, it quoted Jameson Dion saying the spread of the disease would have “far-reaching consequences.”
On that day, only 11 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in the United States. “Community spread” had not begun and no furniture stores had been shut down. But Dion, vice president of global sourcing for HFA member City Furniture in Tamarac, Florida, was already keeping a wary eye on fast-moving developments. The headline on that blog post warned, “Coronavirus is likely to disrupt furniture industry.”
Since then, Dion and other members of HFA’s Government Relations Action Team—from Massachusetts to California—have been busy working on behalf of furniture retailers caught in this massive disruption. Under their direction, HFA has pushed Congress for critical relief and recovery measures.
The GRAT, led by Matt Schultz of John V Schultz Furniture in Erie, Pa., developed legislative priorities and made sure Congress was aware of them. Schultz spoke with his representative, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, to ask for more flexibility in the Paycheck Protection Program and for liability protection for furniture stores. The team held conversations with U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and with a key staff member for the Senate Small Business Committee. It also spoke with officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to discuss the impact of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on furniture retail businesses.
Thanks to groundwork by the GRAT, the HFA has addressed letters to congressional leaders, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza. Its efforts have led to the granting of additional flexibility in how PPP loans can be used, an expanded credit for Employee Retention Tax Credits and correcting a detrimental tax provision for expensing improvements to retail property.
Dion and other members of HFA’s Government Relations Action Team have been busy working on behalf of furniture retailers caught in this massive disruption.
As furniture stores across the country were ordered to close to help stem the spread of the deadly virus, the GRAT also developed fact sheets for retailers to communicate three points to state and local officials:
Furniture stores are essential.
Furniture stores are safe.
All stores that sell furniture should be treated equally.
In normal times, the GRAT holds monthly conference calls covering topics such as tariffs, furniture stability and flame retardants—all very important issues. For the past several months, it has conferred at least weekly. It will continue that schedule as long as the “far-reaching consequences” of the coronavirus crisis are disrupting the furniture industry.
Doug Clark can be reached at email@example.com and 336-870-8025.
A feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.