The National Flea Market Association has been representing national flea markets and swap meets in Washington since the late 1990’s. Without their input, flea market and swap meet vendors would be held on a tight leash by members of Congress. Steve Blakewood, a member of the legislative branch of the NFMA, explains just how this national organization fights for flea market rights.
“The need for representation in Washington became apparent to the NFMA’s leadership in the late 1990’s when “big box” retailers and their lobbyists began pushing legislation in Washington under ‘Organized Retail Crime Legislation’ that was designed to restrict flea markets from selling certain items under the guise of protecting the public safety,” Blakewood said in a report.
What Exactly is Lobbying
Lobbying is simply the act of communicating views on national policy issues to elected officials, which is the legal term for what the NFMA does when addressing concerns on the industry. This is extremely helpful in getting the “little guys’” voices heard when going against larger businesses.
“The NFMA, as a national association, is focused on Federal Legislation which would impact flea markets and swap meets nationwide,” Blakewood said. “If we don’t look out for our market’s interests and those of our dealer/vendors, who will? If we are not involved in the political decision making process, we may not like the decisions that are made for us.”
Making Their Voice Heard
Currently, Edward Newberry is the registered lobbyist for the NFMA in Washington D.C. To help improve their image and raise their association’s profile in the retail industry, the NFMA engaged The Suffolk Group/Rasky-Baerlein as their registered lobbyists in 2010. In 2016, the NFMA raised their profile in Washington again, hiring Squire Patton Boggs who represents them currently.
By going back and forth to Washington and getting the message out to Congress that flea market and swap meet owners only want an even playing field, the NFMA pushed back on the proposed ‘Organized Retail Crime Legislation,’ which ultimately failed to become law. This raised the association’s profile and improved their image, showing just how powerful a group can be.
The Never-Ending Battle
As a service to the members of the NFMA, the association provides a state-by-state monitoring weekly service in the form of an email. This weekly email graphically shows what states are in session and affords members the ability to quickly identify and read a synopsis of all and pending State Bills.
Ed and his staff at Squire monitor all proposed legislation and agency action that might affect the flea market industry and continue to report it to the NFMA members through news updates. Squire Patton Boggs is one of Washington’s top firms and is also one of the world’s strongest integrated law firms, with more than 1,500 lawyers in 47 offices across 20 countries on five continents, keeping the NFMA in good hands.
The NFMA will continue to fight for flea market and swap meet owners’ rights and their national conferences in Las Vegas to keep its members in the loop. It’s a more practical solution to do it as a group and not alone to make your voice loud and clear and stop the big box retailers having the final say.
For more information on the National Flea Market Association and what they do, visit their website at www.fleamarkets.org.