Frequently Asked Questions
about the Association
If you don’t find answers to a specific question, please feel free to call us or CLICK HERE to complete the Contact Form.
Why do we need a Retail Merchants Association?
The Retail Merchants Association represents over 300 businesses in the community that need support locally and in Richmond through legislation. Started in 1917 by a group of local retailers, The Retail Merchants Association represented mostly the shops downtown but has grown to represent ALL businesses in the Greater Lynchburg Area (Lynchburg, Bedford, Amherst, Appomattox, Campbell County).
Retail Merchants does not work on tourism or economic development, but provides education, support, resources, and promotion of businesses for [mostly] smaller organizations who may not have the financial resources available for other organizations. We offer an affordable level of membership support that works for anyone’s budget .
Do I have to be a retailer to be a member?
Not at all! While RMA’s services seem to be geared to benefit brick and mortar businesses, we are a great fit for service providers, artisans, at home businesses, businesses with 10 or less employees or any business looking for addition support, consultation and exposure.
Do you offer Insurance?
No. We have other alternatives that are geared toward healthcare, but are not insurance.
- We offer a program underwritten by Anthem that provides Value Added Benefits to your policy at no additional premium cost.
- We offer a Prescription Discount Program for all your employees, full or part-time.
- We participate in a program called Good Benefits. For businesses that are unable to offer insurance benefits, this is a great (affordable) alternative. This benefit offers discounted services for a variety of needs, including prescription, vision, vitamin/diabetic supplies, dental, hearing, and more. Click here to visit our Good Benefits section of available discounted services.
If I’m a franchise or larger company, can I join RMA?
YES. Although we’d like to be known as the “BUY LOCAL People,” we stress that this is an educational campaign and NOT a boycott of any kind. We promote growth and commerce in our community on all levels. We are merely trying to educate the community on the importance of supporting local merchants and businesses in an effort to keep dollars local, retain local character and uniqueness and add more dollars to our community. We appreciate your support and many of our larger local businesses benefit and service our smaller businesses.
What are the benefits of RMA?
RMA has changed over the years as the business community has changed and technology changed the way we live and work. We went from being the credit bureau to now being an association of support and affordable services for local businesses.
We offer marketing consultation and support, co-op advertising advantages and benefits, affordable education and workshops, representation on important issue affecting businesses in Richmond and on local levels, respectable referrals for businesses through testimonials and reviews, as well as member-to-member matches. For more details visit the “services” tab, or call our office to set up a convenient time to meet for a one-on-one Q&A.
How is the Retail Merchants Association tied to the Greater Lynchburg community?
Within the body of Permanent Members, there are individuals either volunteering or elected to be “GEMS” – “Giving Excellent Member Service.” These individuals are volunteers from the business community who believe in the mission of RMA. They are local business owners, managers or employees offering their time and resources to our mission.
The RMA Board of Directors is made up of local business leaders either active or retired from the RMA community. These are a group of respected community members who have a vested interest in our local community and who give of their time and talent through association with various groups and associations, particularly on a non-profit level.
We have sponsored events by local charities, particularly those that bring people into the local service area. We want people to see what the Greater Lynchburg area has to offer in the way of restaurants, hotels, shopping, and recreation.
We belong to all five area Chambers of Commerce, the Young Professionals of Central Virginia, Friends of the City Market, and Lynch’s Landing. Our staff and GEMS Team attend various activities and events in the community. Our Foundation provides scholarship money to local students at E.C. Glass and Heritage High Schools, and we have supported the Lynchburg City Schools’ Education Foundation for over 10 years by providing grant money to help enhance and enrich opportunities for students.
How is this membership different from my Chambers of Commerce memberships?
Retail Merchants Association is one of many wonderful local opportunities to gain support for your business, but we are different from local Chambers in the following respect: We are not affiliated with the local government in any manner; we do not focus on economic development or tourism. In Richmond, you will find our legislative efforts are rarely the same.
We appreciate and support what these organizations bring to our community. We are proud members of all five (5) Chambers and wholeheartedly support the work they do in our business community. We are not an “either – or” option for businesses. We hope that our services complement what the Chamber offer, but we do not directly compete with them.
How does RMA keep the membership fees so low?
The Retail Merchants Association is able to provide low fees because of the support of our local business sponsors and through partnerships with advertisers and other media outlets. This support allows us to keep our variety of programs and campaigns to assist local business… all at a cost that is affordable!
Continued fundraising campaigns will come in the future as we gain memberships and support.
Is it true that I receive MORE than ONE membership when I join RMA?
YES. With the RMA (local membership) you get a FREE membership in the Virginia Retail Merchants (VRMA) in Richmond, which has 5,300 members statewide. VRMA provides our legislative representation, among other valuable services. This is particularly useful if your business expands beyond our local service area. You have the option to receive information from them, via e-mail or fax, regarding legislation and issues before the General Assembly in Richmond
In partnership with VRMA you get a membership to the National Retail Federation (NRF) which keeps you involved on a national level with news and laws that affect businesses nationwide. This organization is an amazing resource and wealth of information for members.
What does my sponsorship support?
Sponsorship supports all of the services offered by RMA, to include educational workshops, our BUY LOCAL campaign materials, New Member Breakfasts (4 x annually), networking opportunities, and more. We have a variety of sponsorship packages available and will custom design a package to fit within your budget and needs.
Are donations and/or membership dues tax deductible?
Yes. The Internal Revenue Service allows dues for agencies such as a Chamber of Commerce or similar Trade Association to be deducted as a business expense. RMA falls within that category. CLICK HERE to see a copy of the Internal Revenue Service’s Pub. 535 – Business Expenses.
What does my membership and/or sponsorships support?
Your financial support will be invested in the infrastructure needed to support marketing initiatives, our BUY LOCAL Educational Campaign, one-on-one marketing consultations, networking groups and support groups, monthly Coffee Talks (our open networking group), New Member Breakfast(orientation and meeting with other business professionals), and producing real-world events for the business community. Your contributions will directly support RMA where most needed, in keeping the Retail Merchants Association’s mission to serve, support and promote our business community, ensuring that our area continues to grow and thrive.
How can I join the Retail Merchants Association?
There are several ways to become a partner with our association.
- You may complete the online application and provide us with your credit card information (secured encryption for your safely).
- Stop by the office (147 Mill Ridge Road, Suite 209) and pick up an application and member packet.
- Call us (434-528-1732) and ask for a membership packet and application to be delivered to you.