From Storefront to DC: HFA Government Relations Action Team is Making a Difference

HFA's GRAT team walking to the DC Capital Building

Are you battling zoning restrictions in your local community?

Do labor laws and sales tax compliance change regularly in your state?

Are you aware of the federal and state data security and privacy regulations?

Are you compliant with the newly enacted STURDY ACT affecting all home furnishings retailers?

As a small business owner, you focus on running your store, serving your customers, and growing your business. But did you know that involving advocacy efforts to make business-friendly changes can boost your bottom line even more? While it may seem like something only large corporations engage in, retailers of all sizes have a powerful impact when joining forces with other business owners. Advocating for issues that ease regulations, lower costs, or attract more customers to your area are wins for you and your community. That’s why it’s important to consider getting involved with advocacy at different levels — federal, state, or local. Through the HFA Government Relations Action Team advocacy initiatives, such as supporting industry-related bills, writing letters to legislators, and engaging on social media platforms, retailers can work together to create an environment that best fosters their own success while benefiting their community. Here at HFA, we are committed to helping retailers understand how effective involvement with advocacy can help your bottom line!

We will review the initiatives the HFA Government Relations Action Team has worked on over the past year and discuss how you can get involved to make a difference in your community.

HFA’s Government Relations Action Team works on behalf of the Furniture Industry- The 2023 Year in Review

The start of 2023 was a wake-up call for our industry. Looming in May was an effective date for clothing storage unit tip-over regulations that the commission was attempting to implement, authored by the CPSC. These standards were extreme and nearly impossible to comply with. They would have added more than 100 pounds to a typical small dresser and expanded their dimensions. It would have created a safety danger to the warehouse and delivery teams and the customers buying them if they needed to move the furniture.

There was an alternative. The STURDY Act, which contained stricter safety standards our industry had supported for years, was the culmination of work between parent groups, consumer advocates, testing labs, and furniture manufacturers. They all agreed the new standards within STURDY would protect children. STURDY was passed into law in December of 2022 and signed into law that same month.

Through HFA’s advocacy, many members of our government relations action team (GRAT) played a huge role in getting the CPSC to focus on the new law and steer away from their extreme standards. A pivotal moment came when a letter from 10 US Senators, including authors of STURDY, was sent to the CPSC imploring the Commission to follow the law and abandon their unnecessary efforts. Five of those Senators were on that letter directly from HFA members reaching out personally.

In April, all of these diligent efforts paid off when the CPSC, working from their staff recommendation, agreed to support the STURDY law and work toward its implementation. This was a huge win for child safety and the families our members serve. There’s never been a better example of the power of HFA’s advocacy.

Building on our work across industry, consumer, congressional, and Administration stakeholders, HFA hosted another DC fly-in in May 2023. In addition to addressing the success of the STURDY Act effort, we met with influential Members of Congress and staff on broader issues impacting furniture retailers and the broader economy.

Congress was deep in negotiations around extending the US debt limit at the time. HFA met with one of the principal negotiators to describe the economic impacts of inaction on retailers and consumers. Gaining insight into the process was helpful for our members, and we provided a unique perspective within the context of the broader macroeconomic situation.

We also used the fly-in as an opportunity to strengthen our coalition/partnerships with other 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 remain strong as we work to identify impacts on furniture retailers related to the supply chain and the broader economy related to home buying/furnishing.

In the months following the DC fly-in and as the STURDY Act was implemented, the STURDY Act authors wrote to HFA about implementation and urged compliance. Throughout the legislative and rulemaking process, HFA repeatedly underscored retailers’ critical role in educating vendors and consumers about the mandatory changes. That role was validated with outreach from these congressional leaders.

Working with Synchrony, we brought a consumer-facing approach to the potential impact on credit availability from a pending regulation on ‘late fees’ from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Going Forward

There is a never-ending list of challenges our dynamic industry faces. This calls for vigilance and consistent monitoring of all issues. HFA’s Government Relations Action Team is committed to keeping tabs on anything that could impact your business; however, we need everyone to pitch in and become involved. You might be the next person with a relationship that can ensure our voice is heard.

Join the HFA Government Relations Action Team (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, just let us know: https://myhfa.org/resources/government-relations/.

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