When I look at 2021 through the lens of advocacy, I must tell you that it was a game-changer for our industry and the home furnishings association. That’s something I say on many different levels. First, the sheer volume of issues we weighed in on, the positions we presented, and the critical decision-makers we engaged make up an expansive list. In no particular order, we’re talking, of course, about the infrastructure bill, the Ocean Shipping Act, the STURDY act, the reconciliation process, and concerns we had about raised corporate taxes. We put out a letter to home furnishings customers to try and put the supply chain into perspective and let them understand how important they are to our member businesses. We published an open letter to President Biden asking for a seat at the table regarding discussions revolving around solutions to the supply chain issue. That opened the door to continuing conversations with the Department of Transportation and Commerce. We put out a position piece on the proposed dwell fees at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. I could go on and on.
Another game-changer of the year was how our members stepped up with information, data, and their voices to bring actual testimonials and examples to members of Congress and key people in the administration. This level of engagement made the HFA voice more impactful and provided the House, Senate, and the Biden Administration the necessary context to understand the issues more clearly. No one truly understood the impact of the increased container charges until HFA’s GRAT presented our members’ experiences. 2021 showed us the power of our stories, the power of our data, and the power of our position.
As I look toward 2022, I can confidently say the game-changing aspects of 2021 advocacy need to be the baseline for approaching everything in 2022. Our activism and advocacy must be sharp and focused on an era of disruption. We can’t sit back and assume that decision-makers and policy producers genuinely understand the needs of our industry. The fact is they don’t. Our sector is different from every other sector of retail. If we continue as an industry to battle for discretionary dollars and find ways to increase market share, then it is not the time to sit back and be silent. So, this article is twofold. One is to celebrate a great year of battles fought and stances defined. Two, it is a call to action. We need everyone to take an active role in advocating for the needs of the home furnishings industry. Now is not the time to lower the volume.