WASHINGTON – Over the recent two-week Congressional recess period, NACS members and NACS GR staff hosted 5 NACS In Store events with members of Congress. NACS In Store is a grassroots program run through the NACS Government Relations department where members of Congress are invited to visit a convenience store in their district to learn about what goes into the day-to-day operations of that store, as well as how federal issues have influence over our industry.
The first event from the past two weeks was held on March 24 at a Thorntons store in Fox Lake, Illinois with Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL-10). Congressman Schneider’s tour was highlighted by a conversation with a constituent who engaged the Congressman in a discussion on why alien legal residents who serve in the United States Armed forces aren’t automatically granted US citizenship. As with most of these visits the Congressman came away impressed with the people of Thorntons and how much emphasis they put on finding and training the right talent. He also learned firsthand how our industry deals with issues like data security, menu labeling, and payments issues.
Then next event was in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, on March 26 at a Kwik Trip where Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI-6) had a very enthusiastic visit. Representative Grothman was very familiar with Kwik Trip, one of his favorite stops on the road. During his In Store, the Kwik Trip team discussed a number of issues with him including fuels, food safety, payments security, and online gaming.
The following day, March 27, there were events hosted in St. Cloud, MN, and Augusta, GA. In St. Cloud Kwik Trip hosted their second event of the recess when Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN-6) spent time with the Kwik Trip team at the store. During the store tour, the Kwik Trip team highlighted their work in the community. Representative Emmer shared that his first job was pumping gas at a convenience store, and his enthusiasm for the job was seen in action as he worked behind the counter at Kwik Trip. Rep. Emmer stated, “For me, visiting local stores and interacting with Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District is the best part of the job.”
Rep. Emmer is a member of the Financial Services Committee and the Kwik Trip team spent time discussing payments and data security issues with him. His visit was featured in a segment on the local news in St. Cloud that evening.
Down in Augusta, Sprint Foods hosted Rep. Rick Allen for a NACS In Store event. Andy Jones (President & CEO of Sprint Foods) and the Sprint Foods team had the opportunity to share with the congressman one of their new, rebuilt stores. This was the second NACS In Store that the congressman participated. In addition to the store tour, Andy shared with Rep. Allen how many of the issues in Congress affect the convenience industry. Much of the time was devoted to discussing payments and data security, with Rep. Allen asking about the EMV transition and how we can bring more competition to the payments system to help bring down costs for small businesses and protect consumers payment card information.
With the congressman sitting on the House Agriculture Committee, the Sprint team and the congressman discussed the SNAP program, where Rep. Allen pointed out how important it is for the convenience industry is to continue to participate in the program. The Sprint team also helped prepare the congressman for some time serving customers behind the register. The congressman shared how one of his early jobs as a teenager was working at his family’s gas station.
The final event of the break was held in Birmingham, AL, where Encore stores hosted Congressman Brad Palmer (R-AL-6) for a visit at one of their Shell locations. Mr. Palmer was very interested in what efforts the Encore staff make to help combat human trafficking which has become a significant issue in that part of the state. He was encouraged to learn of NACS partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Blue Campaign” which is focused on educating people in how to spot the warning signs of human trafficking potentially happening around them. He was also happy to hear Encore’s owner, former NACS Chairman, Rahim Budhwani commit to continuing to do whatever his team can to identify those warning signs and notify authorities. Much of the rest of the tour was spent discussing various federal regulations and how they directly impact small businesses like Encore stores.
Your NACS GR department is always looking to schedule In Store events during Congressional recesses. If you are interested in hosting your local member of Congress in your store please contact Anna Ready, director of government relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.