By Sarah Kuper
The Bromberg name in Birmingham is synonymous with fine jewelry and high standards.
Now, the Bromberg name has been recognized by the National Retail Federation, as company President Ricky Bromberg was named a top five finalist for America’s Retail Champion Award.
Bromberg has served on the Alabama Retail Association board since 2006 and as a member of the executive committee since 2013. He is currently the chairman.
The recognition comes after his years of state- and federal-level advocacy for the retailers of Alabama.
Bromberg said an experience with his family business is what first had him writing legislators about what he considered a detrimental law for local retailers. A run-of-the-mill sales tax audit led to fines for the business because it was not aware of a law requiring a business to pay sales taxes on donated items.
“This struck me as really unfair so I started writing state legislators. Some got back to me and some didn’t but in the end I got nowhere,” Bromberg said.
That’s when he reached out to the Alabama Retail Association. The association works full time to advocate for and promote retail growth in the state.
After several years working with the association and lawmakers, Bromberg succeeded and now donations to charity valued at less than $10,000 are no longer taxable.
That would be the first of many retail causes Bromberg would advocate.
“I got into it and it is right up my alley. I interned in D.C. in college. Plus, anything I can do for the greater good,” Bromberg said.
Bromberg received the award as a finalist on his most recent trip to the capital with the Alabama Retail Association.
Before attending the awards banquet, Bromberg and other association members had back-to-back appointments with lawmakers from Alabama to raise issues facing retailers in the state.
At the banquet, Bromberg remembers feeling honored by the recognition but not particularly deserving.
“Being recognized for something I’m just passionate about seems unfair. I don’t know that I was more deserving than anyone else in that room,” he saiad.
While Bromberg was one of the men recognized in Washington, he emphasizes that the real honor should go to the Alabama Retail Association because of its tireless efforts.
Level Playing Field
Bromberg is currently advocating for e-fairness. He said that, in the past 15 years, online commerce has become more than just a novelty; at least 10 percent of retail sales nationwide are now conducted online.
Online exclusive retailers are not subject to the same tax regulations as brick and mortar stores, which is one reason they can routinely offer lower prices.
“It isn’t fair to mainstream businesses who are supporting local Little League teams and donating to silent auctions,” Bromberg said, “We are not afraid of the competition, we just want a level playing field.”
Bromberg said he believes it is important for his 180-year-old business to be involved in the community by supporting local charities and being a mouthpiece for fellow retailers.
“I really do feel that if you don’t speak up for yourself, no one will.”
When he isn’t working with legislators in Montgomery or Washington, Bromberg continues to run the family business.
“Our claim to fame may be that we have been family-owned for so long, but I think people also respect us because we treat our clients and our employees right. That is what has kept us in business for 180 years,” Bromberg said.
Another Over the Mountain retail advocate also was nominated for the America’s Retail Champion award.
Terry Shea, co-owner and vice president of Wrapsody in Hoover and Auburn, is a member of the retail association board and acts as a mentor to other new retailers and as a media spokeswoman.
In 2015, the National Retail Federation chose Shea to testify on behalf of the nation’s retailers at a congressional hearing about proposed overtime regulation changes.