In 1902, the Chamber of Commerce determined that Retailers' needs were different from most businesses. Thus, the Retail Merchants Association was created in 1903.
The issues that were addressed by the new association were timeless in nature. They included networking opportunities, transportation, advertising, licensing, taxes, holiday closings, etc.
During the early years of the association, the extension of credit by retailers was a crucial part of day-to-day business. Obviously, with the creation of the Retail Merchants Association (RMA) in 1903, RMA was in the right place at the right time to cater to the credit reporting needs of its members. In 1906, the purchase of the Norfolk Bureau of Credit was the ideal fit for the organization. Throughout the years, RMA focused reporting initiatives. Automation and other peripheral services (mortgage credit reporting and recovery services) became major revenue generators.
Today, technology, automation, and national mergers have supplanted the need for a local credit bureau and its peripheral services. Through initiatives of the board and leadership of its current President/CEO, Retail Alliance® is in the position to begin the transformation necessary for it “to become the premier organization serving the interest of local retailers in the Greater Hampton Roads area.”
Our current structure reflects two critical retail needs: Business Services and Retail Services.
The goals and strategies employed during the last five years will serve as a solid foundation for the coming years as the genesis of Retail Alliance® continues.
1903: The Retail Merchants Association of Norfolk elected officers and started meeting. Members met in the Chamber of Commerce headquarters on Granby Street. In the early years, the officers and members considered programs such as: support of the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 with a model department store on the site; early closings on special holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day; strategies to lobby the city council on the merchants license tax; and a resolution to prevent “barking,” or soliciting of trade on the street.
1906: The Association organized a Bureau of Credit charging users $25 per year. The Association and Credit Bureau moved to its own space in the Bureau of Trade.
1957: The company expanded its services by adding a Recovery Department for collections of past due accounts.
1978: The Retail Merchants Association of Norfolk merged with The Retail Merchants Association of Portsmouth and reorganized as The Retail Merchants Association of Tidewater, Virginia, Inc.
1979: The company moved into a new building on Poplar Hall Drive in the burgeoning Military Highway district of Norfolk This relocation was an effort to become easily accessible to consumers throughout Hampton Roads. (Previously we were headquartered Lonsdale Building, 207 Granby Street Norfolk, VA 23510.)
1981: The credit bureau became an affiliate of Equifax, then CBI, one of the three national credit report organizations in the country.
1986: The Retail Merchants Association of Tidewater acquired the Credit Bureau of Suffolk and expanded its services to Franklin and Isle of Wight County.
1998: To reinforce its original mission as a retail association, the company expanded to offer a Retail Services division, providing training, library resources, marketing and government relations services, and meeting room space for local retailers.
2001: The credit reporting files of Retail Alliance were acquired by Equifax, a national credit reporting company. In turn, Equifax expanded the Retail Alliance sales and marketing area. This expansion more than doubles the Retail Alliance sales territory.
2004: Continuing our strategic plan to get back to our association roots Retail Alliance sold our mortgage reporting operation and Retail Alliance Recovery Services.
2005: 5755 Poplar Hall Drive was sold. After the sale of our business assets our building on Poplar Hall Drive was much larger than we needed to operate. We found leased space at 500 Plume Street East in downtown Norfolk.
2007: (December) Retail Alliance held the first Holiday Window Works Contest were area retailers decorated their store fronts to adhere to the theme "Spirit of Giving" and raise money for the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.
2008: (February) Retail Alliance awarded Rowena's the Retail of the Year at the ROTY gala event in Norfolk.
2010: Retail Alliance purchased its corporate office located at 838 Granby Street, downtown Norfolk.
2011: The Retail Alliance Foundationi was formed as the charitable and educational arm of Retail Alliance. A percentage of all dues collected go directly to the funding of the Foundation.
2012: Retail Alliance Business Solutions Inc was formed as a for-profit corporation to represent Equifax reporting services throughout the state of Virginia.
Today Retail Alliance Business Solutions serves over 1,200 credit reporting customers with gross sales of over eight million dollars.
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