ABA to Host Summit for Advocates for Independent Retail

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Leaders from trade associations and other organizations representing independent businesses will come together on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, in Washington, D.C., for the Advocates for Independent Retail (AIR) Summit, organized by the American Booksellers Association.

“The upcoming AIR Summit is a reflection of ABA’s strong, continuing belief in the importance of building coalitions with other indie retailers – something that is critical to us all,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher.

Participants in the invitation-only leadership gathering include advocates for independent toy retailers, pet stores, flower shops, bike shops, community-based banks, hardware stores, pharmacies, record stores, the college and Christian retail markets, museum shops, and more, as well as representatives from the 3/50 Project.

“It’s ABA’s hope that, with leaders from all of these diverse organizations in one room, we can begin to establish a structure for institutional cooperation, as well as to generate fresh ideas to support independent retail and concrete recommendations regarding public policy,” said ABA Membership and Marketing Officer Meg Smith. “Our goal is to give independent businesses everywhere the knowledge, collaborative support, and leverage they need to thrive in their local marketplaces.”

A centerpiece of the event will be the release of a new study by the strategic planning firm Civic Economics. The study will detail both which communities have the most vibrant independent retail sectors and the correlation between retail strength and various measures of economic health, livability, and quality of life. The study will be shared with ABA member booksellers at the “Indie City Index” session at the Winter Institute on Friday, January 21.

AIR’s keynote address, “The State of the Independents Movement,” will be presented by Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher for the New Rules Project, chair of the American Independent Business Alliance, and the author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses (Beacon Press).

And, because learning from others is key, “Models of Local and Indie Engagement: What We Hear, What We Read, What We Eat, and Where We Shop” will bring together Eric Levin and Michael Bunnell, founders of national Record Store Day; Becky Anderson, founder of IndieBound Naperville and owner of Naperville’s Anderson’s Bookshop; Stacy Miller, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition; and James Rosenfield, principal of real estate development firm J.S. Rosenfield & Co for a panel discussion, to be moderated by Betsy Burton, co-owner of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, co-founder and board chair of Local First Utah.

A day of informative meetings and panels will culminate in dynamic, focused roundtable discussions led by Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (both Riverhead), who will help participants come to insightful, practical, and action-oriented conclusions.