The National Flea Market Association (NFMA) invites its members to visit Washington, DC, October 2-3 for the fourth annual “Day on the Hill.” The NFMA’s lobbyists, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and The Suffolk Group, will be arranging meetings for members with representatives from Congress and the Senate, or their high-ranking staff members.
“During those meetings, we introduce politicians to the NFMA, and inform them what our association is about and what we stand for,” explains John Chism, general manager of Quakertown Farmers Market and Flea Market in Quakertown, PA. Chism is an NFMA past president, board member and co-chairman of the legislative committee. “We leave a packet of material about the NFMA that includes policy and white paper memorandums, our code of conduct, rules and regulations for our members related to operating their businesses, and our contact information.”
Legislation must be fair to all businesses
The NFMA’s position on all legislation is that it be fair. “All proposed legislation must have no caveats for any one business to benefit from it or for it to negatively impact one group over another, whether that be the NFMA or anyone else,” Chism clarifies. “If a bill is passed, we believe it needs to be fairly enforced across the board, among big box stores, Main Street retailers, online catalogs, and mom and pop shops.” As an example, The Mainstreet Fairness Act, which is the taxing of all online purchases, was not written fairly, Chism points out. “It could adversely affect flea markets because they might purchase merchandise online, or some of them might sell online as well as at flea markets.” The NFMA asked for, and had success with, a prior bill on Organized Retail Crime (ORC), Chism adds. “Senator Dick Durbin’s office did make changes because he agreed it should be fairly enforced. ORC is a huge problem across the country for everyone, not just for flea markets and swap meets.”
In addition to meeting with government officials, NFMA’s Day on the Hill will include honoring the “Legislator of the Year.” The association gives an award to the politician who has best displayed the ideals of the NFMA during the previous year. The recipient will be announced in September.
The U.S. has between 1,200 and 1,400 active flea markets, and around 200 flea market owners and managers are members of the NFMA. “But our association represents all flea markets,” Chism stresses. “We are the last bastion of entrepreneurship in America, and we are the ground level for people to be able to open their own businesses. Two of our biggest ideals are that we run our businesses in an open and honest fashion, and that we contribute to our communities.”
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