OTA Looks to Form Retailer Council

August 28th 2018

An Open Letter from Mark Squire, OTA Board Member

I have been a member of the Organic Trade Association for more years than I care to count, and am now serving on the Board. As a retailer, I am both discovering in depth all the great work that is going on within the trade association but also noticing that retailers are underrepresented in many of the important conversations that take place. These conversations lead to important policy decisions and eventually contribute to the direction of our organization as well as the awesome advocacy work we do nationally.

Among the the foundational structures called out in our bylaws are our Sector Councils. Currently the Organic Trade Association has a Fiber, Farmer, Dietary Supplement, and Grains Council. When I looked at this list with my new board member eyes, I couldn’t ignore the absence of the retail sector.

So, I have submitted a request to our Board to create the Retailer Council. I have also reserved a space at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore for an exploratory conversation with those who are interested in joining me. The meeting will take place on Friday, September 14, at 9:00 a.m. in the Baltimore Hilton Convention Center Key Ballroom 3. Attending the meeting does not imply a firm commitment. And, if you are interested in attending but not able to be in Baltimore, please be in touch, as we might be able to conference you in.

To help facilitate our work, the Council has OTA staff support in the form of Angela Jagiello. Angela has been with OTA a number of years and is very enthusiastic about working with us.

I hope that at our first meeting we can talk a bit about structure as well as brainstorm what we would like to see on a work plan moving forward.

My initial thoughts as well as some ideas I have heard suggested by some of you include:

  • What can our sector contribute to the sometimes complex conversations that are occurring in the overall organic and natural industry?
  • How can we increase the trade association’s retail membership?
  • How can we help retailers educate the greater community on organic issues?
  • How can we help retailers market and sell more organic products?
  • How could Organic Trade Assocation better serve our sector?

Please come if you can and bring your great ideas. You do not need to make the first meeting to join the Council. I would anticipate that once we get rolling, phone participation will be all that is needed, with maybe an in person meeting at Expo East and West.

I do need one thing from you at this point. The bylaws require that seven members formally endorse the formation of a council. I would love to get that via an e-mail endorsement as simple as “I would like to join and endorse the formation of the Organic Trade Association Retailer Council.”

I am excited at the prospect of what we can do together!

Thank you,

Mark Squire
Good Earth Natural Foods
Fairfax and Mill Valley, CA
Mark@GENatural.com | 415-454-0123