by Mark Schumacher, HFA CEO and Chris Andresen, Lobbyist, Dutko
It’s our view that every furniture retailer should be familiar with the Home Furnishings Association’s Government Relations Action Team (GRAT).
HFA advocates for retailer-friendly changes in areas such as sales tax collection, interchange fees on bankcard processing, EPA and DOT regulations, healthcare, tax reform and other regulations that affect all furniture and bedding retailers.
Burdened by Regulations?
Are you battling zoning restrictions in your local community? Are you being challenged by frequent changes to labor laws and sales tax compliance in your state? Are you concerned about federal and state rules regarding data security, privacy or other federal, state, and local regulations? HFA wants to hear from you if you answered affirmatively to any of the questions above.
The HFA truly understands the hectic schedules that furniture store managers and owners contend with while managing daily retail responsibilities and taking care of their customers, staff, community and bottom line.
While advocacy may seem like something only large corporations can afford to engage in, individual furniture retailers can have a powerful impact when joining forces in large or small ways with their fellow retail store owners. Advocating for issues that ease regulations, lower costs or attract more customers to your trading area is a win for you and for your community. That’s why HFA hopes you consider getting involved with us to influence decisions at the federal, state, and local levels.
Retail members of HFA’s GRAT team, Matt Schultz of John V Schultz/Levin Furniture; Jesús Capó, at El Dorado Furniture; Jim Kittle, Kittle’s Furniture; Joel Haimsohn, Lawrance Contemporary Furniture; Stan Pickett, Quality Home; David Gunn, Knight Furniture; Lenny Kharitonov, at Emma Mason; and Mitchell Stiles, W. S. Badcock Corp., agree that engaging with GRAT is worth the time and effort.
Your advocacy can start in small ways by voicing support for industry-related bills, writing letters to legislators, engaging on social media platforms or letting HFA know about issues that affect your business. The Home Furnishings Association is committed to helping retailers understand how effective involvement in policy can help everyone’s bottom line.
“HFA’s Government Relations Action Team is committed to keeping tabs on legislation that could impact your businesses. To do this effectively, we need stakeholders to pitch in and become involved to ensure our voice is heard.”
2023 Year in Review
Tip-Over Regulation: Early in 2023, with an effective date for clothing storage unit tip-over regulations looming, members of HFA’s GRAT played an oversized role in getting the CPSC to reconsider proposed standards that were extreme and nearly impossible to comply with. If enacted, they would have resulted in more than 100 pounds added to typical small dressers and a host of unfriendly design changes for consumers. The added weight and bulk would have endangered warehouse and delivery teams as well as consumers who attempted to move this furniture.
HFA advocated for a better alternative, the STURDY Act, a collaborative effort between parent groups, consumer advocates, testing labs, and furniture manufacturers to protect children. STURDY included safety standards that the furniture industry had supported for years.
Through HFA’s advocacy, a letter from ten U.S. Senators was sent to the CPSC imploring the Commission to abandon their unnecessary regulatory guidelines and follow the STURDY law that had previously been signed into law by Congress in 2022. Five of those senators signed that letter as a direct result of HFA members reaching out personally.
In April, the CPSC agreed to support the STURDY law and work toward its implementation. This was a huge win for child safety, furniture retailers and manufacturers. There’s never been a better example of the power of HFA’s advocacy.
In May 2023, building on this effort, HFA hosted another DC fly-in to review the success of the STURDY Act effort. A GRAT representative met with influential members of Congress and staff to discuss issues impacting furniture retailers and the broader economy.
We used this fly-in as an opportunity to strengthen industry coalitions and partnerships with leading trade associations and companies, including Synchrony, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). These relationships remained strong as HFA continued to work on the supply chain and other issues affecting home furnishings retailers throughout 2023.
In the months following the DC fly-in, as the STURDY Act was implemented, its authors wrote to HFA for input regarding manufacturing and retail compliance. Throughout the legislative and rulemaking process, HFA repeatedly underscored retailers’ critical role in educating vendors and consumers about the mandatory changes.
Late Fee Regulation: Also in 2023, working with Synchrony, HFA helped reduce the potential negative impact on credit availability of a pending ‘late fees’ regulation introduced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
“Are you battling zoning restrictions in your local community? Being challenged by frequent changes to labor laws and sales tax compliance in your state?”
Our industry will face a never-ending list of legislative challenges in 2024. HFA’s Government Relations Action Team is committed to keeping tabs on legislation that could impact your business. To do this effectively, we need stakeholders to pitch in and become involved to ensure our voice is heard.
About GRAT: The HFA Government Relations Action Team advocates with other members for what matters to you: fair taxes, free trade, responsible regulations, economic growth, and more. We join forces with the American Home Furnishings Alliance, the National Retail Federation, the International Home Furnishing Representatives Association, and others over common concerns facing the home furnishings industry. If you want to get involved and be a part of the HFA Government Relations Action Team (GRAT) visit https://myhfa.org/resources/government-relations.
About HFA: HFA is a trade organization dedicated to serving furniture retailers for over 100 years. Our mission of service is built on Community, Advocacy, Resources, and Education designed to support retailer interests and the success of the home furnishings industry. HFA provides members with programs, resources, services, and a unified voice in government relations. For more information about HFA and its programs, visit www.myhfa.org.
A feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.