Bottom Line // November-December 2023
MIRA welcomed both a new president & CEO and a new board chair. Also, 2023 saw the addition of talented new staff members to the MIRA team, as well as several exciting new events. Here are some of the highlights of 2023:
Former Westland Mayor Bill Wild was named the new President & CEO of MIRA on the announced retirement of Ed Weglarz; MIRA welcomed several talented new staff members; Bobby Hesano, Owner of D&B Grocers, was elected as the new Chairman of the MIRA Board of Governors.
The MIRA Bottom Line featured the importance of keeping track of Grab-and-Go Theft Incidences. There was a post on Facebook with the caption “A clever shop owner thwarted a thief’s plan to steal almost $2,000 worth of mobile phones.” The video showed a clip from a mobile store where a man attempted to run out with phones but was stopped when the clerk hit a button at the counter that locked the door and locked the would-be thief inside the store. There were more than 207,000 views of the video at the end of December 2022.
The MIRA Bottom Line brought attention to the importance of MIRA Political Action Committees. MIRA has Political Action Committees (PAC) in Michigan and Ohio for the purpose of raising funds to fund expenditures that further the legislative priorities of membership.
Bottom Line showcased industry trends. Industry insiders made various predictions about 2023 that forecast an exciting year. As markets change and consumers seek exciting new flavors and products, companies were advised to stay nimble and catch trends early to keep up with customers’ ever-evolving tastes and demands. Healthy competition, along with a continued explosion in new products hitting the market well into 2023, was forecast to boost the resilient beverage alcohol industry to new heights.
Continued high inflation fueled fears that an impending recession could impact independent retailers. In February, Elon Musk posted an Instagram commentary on the economy saying that we will face a recession in 2023 and the economy won’t start to come back until after the first quarter of 2024. “At least a light to moderate recession like 2009,” he posted. “I really advise people to not have too much debt in a volatile stock market … the economy is cycling”.
MIRA offered free food handler training after receiving a Michigan Department of Agriculture grant to support Michigan members in understanding the fundamentals of why, what, and how to prevent food contamination in a food establishment, using SafeMark education tools.
After serving more than 15 years, Bobby Hesano, Owner of D&B Grocers, was appointed by his peers to serve as the Chairman of the MIRA Board of Governors. “Having spent many years as a retailer and now supplier and distributor for more than 30 years and with my experience on the board, I was honored to assume the chairman position,” said Hesano.
The MIRA Bottom Line offered tips on how to buy and sell a business, including the need for every small business owner to develop an exit plan. An exit plan is defined as a strategy to sell a business or its assets when the owner is ready to retire or move on.
Members were presented with the benefits of attending the trade shows. “There is always some value in attending and being present at trade shows, whether at a booth or just attending and networking,” said Dr. Russell J. Zwanka, Food Marketing Director at Western Michigan University.
The Chairman’s Dinner returned in 2023. For the first time since 2012, MIRA hosted this distinguished event. Chairman Bobby Hesano served as the host and local personality Jason Carr served as the Master of Ceremonies.
The MIRA Bottom Line took a deep dive into the factors that are driving price increases for member retailers. MIRA Board of Governor Frank Ayar, owner of Walters Shopping Place in Hamtramck, Michigan shared his experiences and spoke about the importance of looking closely at invoices these days as prices are increasing at a rapid rate and more frequently. “We’re not even getting warnings,” said Ayar. “We are getting page after page of price increases without any heads up.”
MIRA members are continuing to create larger online presences to market their businesses. Former MIRA Board of Governor Chairman Cliff Denha’s store, Wine Palace, in Livonia, Michigan is currently 9,000 square feet but his business presence has a global reach via his website and social media platforms. Recently, Denha has been promoting a brand-new beer cave and humidor, proudly stating that they now have one of the largest selections of wine, liquor, and beer in Michigan!
The economy and sustainability continue to affect consumer spending. Real consumer spending is forecast to drop at a 0.5% annualized rate in the second and third quarters of 2023, the first back-to-back quarterly decline since early 2020. U.S. retail sales fell 0.4% in February from the month before according to the Department of Commerce.
Self-checkout systems are becoming more commonplace. In 2019, Value Center Market was featured in a Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions story as using new technology for self-checkouts. Value Center Market, a longtime MIRA member, is a locally owned family grocery store offering great value on the freshest high-quality foods and produce, with four locations throughout southeastern Michigan.
The future of EVs continues to be a topic of discussion. As Electric Vehicles (EVs) gain popularity, many are asking: What will happen to gas stations? Although MIRA members are primarily located in the Midwest of the United States, it would be prudent for members to look to states like California to assess the future of gas stations. California’s shift away from gas-powered vehicles could mean as many as 80% of gas stations would be unprofitable by 2035, according to some experts. The state has some 250,000 station owners and employees.
It has been a few years since the Midwest Independent Retailers Association (MIRA) was represented at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Annual Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. MIRA President & CEO Bill Wild headed to the island to spend three days networking with Michigan’s business, political and media leaders.
MIRA teamed up with a well-known Detroit Broadcaster. During his popular podcast Jason Carr Drive! Jason Carr focuses on positive topics, steering clear of politics or anything divisive. “Topics center on the nostalgia of growing up here and calling Metro Detroit home,” said Carr, “but more specifically the importance of shopping local independent retailers and brands. I don’t think I could get through one episode without talking about something MIRA-related.
The Midwest Independent Retailers Foundation (MIRF) introduced the 2023 scholarship winners during their Annual Scholarship Luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club, with Huntington Bank Chairman serving as the Keynote Speaker and Master of Ceremonies.
The MIRA Bottom Line cover story was focused on Artificial intelligence. Savvy business owners and entrepreneurs understand that to achieve success and improve sales in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, they must continuously adapt to new trends and utilize the latest technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can automate a marketer’s repetitive tasks, from scheduling meetings and appointments to reporting on campaign metrics to optimizing the placement and timing of advertising campaigns. With the right set of tools, AI can do all of that for your business, and more.
The MIRA Bottom Line also highlighted how prepared food sections continue to thrive in retail establishments. The article noted how all consumers share the need to eat daily and today’s shoppers are often on the go. Retail food has become a growing expenditure for most families and retailers are encouraged to invest in this growing segment.