Retail Alliance Foundation

Dream - Learn - Succeed

aka Center for Retail Excellence   |   NORFOLK, VA   |  www.centerforretailexcellence.com

Mission

The Center for Retail Excellence is the action arm of the Retail Alliance Foundation. Our mission is to be the premier source for retail education and support for aspiring and existing business owners. We serve everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, particularly those in the retail community, with programming geared towards non-traditional students with time constraints and limited academic backgrounds.

Ruling year info

2013

President and CEO

Mr. Ray Mattes

Director, Center for Retail Excellence

Michelle Ellis Young

Main address

838 GRANBY ST

NORFOLK, VA 23510 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-5242311

NTEE code info

Philanthropy / Charity / Voluntarism Promotion (General) (T50)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Employment Training (J22)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Retailers fail at a higher rate than almost any other business type, accounting for 11.2% of U.S. small business failure, second only to construction (Dun and Bradstreet). According to a Hampton Roads Planning Development Committee 2016 report, retail success rates are especially dire in Hampton Roads, with retail sales increasing only by 24.9% as compared to 43.4% nationally since March 2009.

The specific business problem is that entrepreneurs embark on small business initiatives without adequate preparation or information . Often individuals exiting the military, or entrepreneurs with a passion to open their own store have subject matter expertise on a specific product or service but lack an understanding of retail operations. The most commonly cited cause of failure involves competency related issues (46%).
Due to our unique affiliation with the Retail Alliance, the RA Foundation was well positioned and equipped to establish the CRE in an effort to fill this competency gap.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Certificate in Retail Operations

This extended programs walks a participant through the considerations necessary to start a retail business in their local area. The program is broken up unto seven topic areas (each 4-6 weeks in length) representing each of the Seven Pillars of Retail Excellence (Start-up, Retail Accounting, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Security/Loss Prevention, Merchandising, and Business Planning). Upon successful completion of the Certificate, participants will have developed a workable business plan that has been vetted by retail business and financial experts. Please contact the Center for more information.

Population(s) Served

Stand-alone classes that cover a variety of topics relevant to retail businesses. They include topics such as: succession planning and retail accounting. Additionally, all of the classes that make up the Certificate in Retail Operations can be taken as individual classes.

Population(s) Served

These are classes and programs developed for a unique business or group of businesses. We can create and customize programs based on a company or organization’s specific needs.

Population(s) Served

We offer mentoring by a reputable, experienced subject matter expert for a variety of business needs.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students registered for online courses

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Context Notes

2017 was the Center for Retail Excellence's inaugural year. We kept student enrollment low to ensure quality programming. A "proof of concept" year.

Number of teachers recruited

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of students receiving personal instruction and feedback about their performance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of students at or above a 90% attendance rate

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of opportunities teachers have to provide and receive mentoring

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of grants and research funding awarded to the institution

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year

Number of teachers trained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of lessons taught

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Context Notes

Each week, new lessons are taught via the online component and/or cohort gatherings.

Number of students who receive scholarship funds and/or tuition assistance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of computer literacy/skills/technology courses conducted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Number of clients satisfied with employment training services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Certificate in Retail Operations

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Retail Alliance Foundation aims to be the premier source of education and support for aspiring and existing retail business owners. Our goal is to ensure program participants have the competencies needed to succeed long-term in their retailing endeavors, reducing annual small business failure rates and, thereby, increasing taxable sales which contributes to the overall civic wellness of the communities we serve.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail supports one in four jobs in the United States and recent regional reports indicate that retail employment forms a greater share of total employment in Hampton Roads than that of the United States as a whole. Our CRE graduates are equipped with the skills needed to grow their small retail business, therefore positioning participating retailers to increase payroll. As an industry, retailers are the largest private employers in the Commonwealth and the sales tax collected through retail is the single largest source of revenue for the state. While Hampton Roads and the country saw a proportional decline in retail sales, the U.S. retail recovery has been more robust than that of the region. We aim to correct this trend by ensuring new Hampton Roads-based retailers have the competencies needed to succeed long-term, reducing annual small business failure rates and, thereby, increasing taxable sales which contributes to the overall civic wellness of the communities we serve.

We have created the Center for Retail Excellence (CRE) to make this happen. The CRE offers classes and mentoring to assist aspiring and existing retailers in operating a successful business. Participants do not have to have a college degree (or even a high school diploma) to enroll and the focus is on those elements that are most essential to business success, rather than on abstract theories.

Our flagship program is the Certificate in Retail Operations (CROps). This Certificate covers seven areas essential to successful retailing and culminates in the development of a workable business plan. Each essential area comprises a six-week long class, and the timeline for completion is less than a year, depending on individual exit and re-entry requirements. Classes are held using a hybrid format, part online, part face-to-face. Students perform most course work via the Internet at times convenient for them. Class cohorts, to which each student is assigned based on their geographical preference, meet face-to-face at specific times during the term. Included in the training is the opportunity to defend one's newly created business plan before a panel of judges, comprised of community retail leaders.

Founded in 1903, the Retail Alliance, also known as the Retail Merchants Association, has a long history of supporting community enrichment programs. We believe merchants can and should contribute to their community's overall cultural, civic and intellectual growth. In fact, since 1990, the Retail Alliance has given almost four million dollars to local organizations. Our charitable activities have included grants, event sponsorship, underwriting economic development efforts and seed money provision for small business growth.

In 2010, the Retail Alliance Board of Directors mandated preservation of these values through the establishment of the Retail Alliance Foundation (RA Foundation), created to support the Retail Alliance's charitable and educational activities. To this day, the Retail Alliance Board of Directors maintains substantial oversight of the RA Foundation, making it stronger and better equipped to achieve our mission: to be the premier source of retail education and support for aspiring and existing business owners.

The creation of the Center for Retail Excellence (CRE), the Foundation's flagship program, illustrates the importance of our strategic connection to the Retail Alliance. Confronted with the high failure rate of our local “mom and pop" storefronts, we watched as business incubators and economic development initiatives flourished throughout our community; however, retail success rates continued to be especially dire in Hampton Roads, with retail sales increasing only by 24.9% as compared to 43.4% nationally since March 2009 . With our strong connection to the Retail Alliance and its myriad of successful members, we identified that the specific business problem is that entrepreneurs embark on small business initiatives without adequate preparation or information . For example, individuals exiting the military or entrepreneurs with a passion to open their own store have subject matter expertise on a specific product or service; however, most lack an understanding of business and retail operations. Due to our unique affiliation with the Retail Alliance, the RA Foundation was well positioned and equipped to establish the CRE in an effort to fill this competency gap.

Access to the Retail Alliance's most successful members informed us that in addition to offering quality products and services, successful members focused on:

- Startup
- Retail accounting
- Security/loss prevention
- Merchandising
- Sales/advertising/marketing
- Management/HR
- Business planning

We distilled these observations into the Seven Pillars of Retail Excellence and built the Certificate in Retail Operations (CROps). By offering classes and mentoring around each pillar, we leveraged our unique position with RA's members to truly assist retailers in starting, maintaining, and growing their businesses.

The Certificate in Retail Operations (CROps) program is in its second year, with the first class completing coursework in late 2016 and presenting their business plans in Feb 2017. Prior to commencing the first CROps class in 2016, the Center for Retail Excellence (CRE), with start-up support from the Retail Alliance, established an administrative and operational structure, developed and refined curriculum for three target markets (aspiring retailers, existing retailers, mentoring and transitions), selected and implemented a Learning Management System, designed and implemented student support services, identified faculty and formulated relationships with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) throughout the retail community. We have established partnerships with regional economic development initiatives which incentivize their participants to enroll in and complete the CROps program.

Next, we hope to establish articulation agreements with local community colleges so that CROps graduates can obtain college credit. Our longer-term sustainability plan is to license and sell auxiliary goods and services nationwide, to like-minded organizations committed to economic sustainability and development in their own communities.

Financials

Retail Alliance Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Retail Alliance Foundation

Board of directors
as of 01/09/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jack Plomgren

Cartridge Man

Philip Scotti

Philip Michael Fashion for Men

Lori Janke

Clothes Mentor/Once Upon A Child

Joseph Taylor

Taylor’s Do It Center

Tom Vaughan

SCORE Association