Retail has a great story to tell in Minnesota!

Articles in Category: MnRA News

Grand Jeté’s Ruthena Fink Brings Over Three Decades Of Local Retail Experience To Leadership Role

Fink’s retail entrepreneurship spans over 30 years; she brings love of dance and customers to her 2017 Minnesota Retailers Association Board chair position

Grand Jeté’s Ruthena Fink Brings Over Three Decades Of Local Retail Experience To Leadership Role

The Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) is pleased to welcome Ruthena Fink, owner of Grand Jeté on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, as its 2017 Board chair. In her leadership role, Fink leads 27 Board members representing retailers across the state and a staff dedicated to contributing to the growth of Minnesota’s economy.
Fink, a long-time resident of St. Paul, opened her dancewear store in 1983. Dancing since she was just seven years old, her love of dance and people found a great home in retail ownership following a career as the Student Financial Aid Director at Macalester College.

Having operated in the same location since opening, Fink has remained a constant in the Midwest dance scene. Despite changes in how retail businesses operate and the ways customers shop, Fink’s passion for personal service has not changed since the first day she opened her doors.

As a one-store, local retailer, Fink has worked closely with her neighborhood and city throughout her years, but notes that today local government has a deeper interest in businesses than ever before.

“In my over three decades of retail store ownership, I have never seen local government more interested in being involved in my business and in my relationship with my employees. Minneapolis and St. Paul have already passed ordinances impacting employers--whether they be national retailers, regional retailers, or one or two person shops. One of the challenges for our industry is telling our story at the local level, and MnRA is poised to help retailers across the state do just that. We need a strong voice to help our public partners understand how their decisions impact customers, careers, and communities,” says Fink when discussing her leadership focus for the year.

Fink’s MnRA priorities include adding retail voices to the organization, working with the State Legislature on issues that strengthen retailer contributions to communities, and establishing a framework for local engagement on issues.

Fink succeeds Glen Thompson who served as Board Chair in 2016 representing JC Penney out of the Ridgedale, Minnetonka location. Thompson recently retired after a 40-plus year retail career and resides in Plymouth.

“Glen was an outstanding leader and ambassador of Minnesota’s retail community. He brought a depth of understanding of retail and Minnesota’s workforce to the Association. Glen made sure we strengthened our policy presence at the State Capitol and reacted to local workplace initiatives,” said association president Bruce Nustad. “Ruthena carries on a tradition of strong volunteer leadership at MnRA including 12 years on the Board of Directors, and you would be challenged to find a kinder, more customer-connected retailer in Minnesota.”

Fink received national honors in 2014 when she was named an America’s Retail Champion finalist by the National Retail Federation, recognizing her connection to community and commitment to telling retail’s story.

Grand Jeté has been a MnRA member since the store opened nearly 34 years ago. Fink was elected chair of the Board in January with a term that runs through December 31, 2017.

For more information on Grand Jete and Ruthena Fink, visit www.grandjete.com.

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Retail in Minnesota: Where 'Minnesota Nice' Meets the Land of 10,000 Lakes

NRF's Retail Across America series tells the Minnesota story; Win a $50 giftcard

Watch all 5 videos, post what you love about retail in Minnesota with #loveMNretail and be eligible to win a $50 gift card! See the end of this article for details.

Mention Minnesota to anyone and they will likely think about our beautiful lakes, our vibrant retail scene - from quaint downtown stores to the iconic Mall of America - and the idea that everyone you meet is "Minnesota Nice." Each of those are actually accurate when it comes to Minnesota, but there is so much more.

Minnesota is proud to have recently hosted NRF's Retail Across America road trip as we traveled the state to show off the innovative and unique nature of retail.

From Red Wing to Duluth, we visited some of the nation's most recognized brands - like Best Buy, Target, Duluth Pack and Mall of America - and some of our beloved local favorites including the Uffda Shop, Grand Jete dance store, Tin Whiskers Brewing Company and 36Lyn refuel station. And we made a few stops at regional retailers like playful Creative Kidstuff and small-town stalwart Thrifty White Pharmacy. Minnesota truly has as many retail innovators as we do lakes!

At each stop, the NRF crew got a good taste of Minnesota Nice. While we take a little ribbing for the term, Minnesota Nice is really core to how retailers in Minnesota treat customers and interact in their communities. You see it in community support, how employers and employees work together to solve problems and in the way we create experiences for customers.

Minnesota's diverse retail community supports one in five jobs across the state - an opportunity to impact more than 780,000 people in each and every city. That's 70,000 retailers coming together to add $46 billion to the economy.

A special thank you to our friends at the National Retail Federation for their investment in this video series. We loved showing you Minnesota!

Video 1: Retail In Minnesota Is Connected!

Video 2: It's True, There Really I A Minnesota Nice

Video 3: Small Businesses: More Than A Place To Shop

Video 4: Handcrafted And Only In Minnesota

Video 5: Minnesota Innovation: Retail Tech In Real Time

Want to be eligible to win a $50 gift card?

Watch the five videos then share your favorite moments or stories about retailers you love in Minnesota on social media with the hashtag #loveMNretail to be placed our drawing for a $50 gift card giveaway! Gift card giveaway cut-off March 4 at noon. Must use #loveMNretail to be entered in to the drawing. Gift card can be from any Minnesota Retailers Associationon member--winners choice! Family and friends eligible. 

 

2016 Board Chair Glen Thompson, JCPenney, Outlines Priorities

Thompson brings 40 years of retail experience to his leadership role

The Minnesota Retailers Association is pleased to welcome Glen Thompson, store manager at JCPenney in Minnetonka at Ridgedale Mall, as its 2016 Board chair. In his volunteer role Thompson leads a group of 28 Board members from across the state and a staff focused on growing Minnesota’s retail economy and jobs.

Thompson lives in Plymouth and has worked in the retail sector for JCPenney since 1975. Thompson began as a store sales associate in St. Louis, Missouri and has held a variety of positions across the country, settling in his store manager role in Minnetonka in 2003.

“This past holiday season reinforced for me how important a vibrant, diverse retail industry is to Minnesota’s consumers, our communities, and employees. Retailers are an essential part of the state’s economy and I am excited to lead a Board and staff committed to the growth of retail throughout the state. I am pleased to play a role in an association dedicated to protecting and enhancing the one-in-five jobs in our State that depend on the success of retailers,” said Thompson.

Thompson's MnRA priorities for 2016 include:

  • Advocate for retail at the Capitol  - we play a critical role in shaping public policy as we work to improve the retail environment in Minnesota.
  • Promote and enhance the retail industry - demonstrate the clear value and expertise of the organization to members, potential members, policy makers, and the media.
  • Serve our members - inform and educate MnRA’s membership on legislative issues, as well as potential threats and challenges resulting from ever changing and improving technology, criminal activity, and fraudulent acts.
  • Promote membership - increase the diversity of MnRA membership through targeted recruiting and grassroots network.

Thompson succeeds Chuck Armstrong who served as Board Chair in 2015 representing Burnsville-based Pawn America. Armstrong resides in Woodbury.

“2015 was a great year for the Minnesota Retailers Association under the leadership of Chuck Armstrong. Chuck made sure we had a strong presence across the state this past year-from Alexandria to Mankato,” said association president Bruce Nustad.  “In addition, Chuck worked hard to help retailers understand how organized retail crime is impacting stores and cultivated new relationships between retailers and law enforcement.”

Thompson’s leadership role began January 1 and runs through December 31.

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