Each year at its annual Retail Advocates Summit, the National Retail Federation (NRF) honors the work of small business owners who are going above and beyond to advocate for the independent retail industry. The America’s Retail Champions program features 34 small businesses, with five named as finalists, including independent home improvement retailer Jessica Bettencourt. On July 28 during the summit, one small retailer will be named the 2022 America’s Retail Champion, and all of the honorees will be featured in a special Main Street exhibit at the summit and celebrated with a dinner.
“It is such an incredible honor to be a finalist,” Bettencourt says. “Retail has been a major part of my life since I was a small child. It feels like retail is a part of my DNA, and to be a finalist for this award is absolutely amazing.”
Bettencourt is a third-generation owner of Klem’s in Spencer, Massachusetts, and has held several positions at the store, from cashier to receiver to manager to owner. From volunteering as a Girl Scouts leader to serving on the board of the local chamber, Bettencourt says she feels it is important to help the community to be successful.
“If my community and other businesses are doing well, it will only help my business as well,” she says. “Honestly, it wasn’t really a conscious decision to begin advocating; when you are so vested in the outcome of a situation you have really no other option than to speak up. It all starts at the state or local level with decisions that may make an enormous impact on your business.”
Bettencourt has been an active part of several NRF advocacy campaigns, including the Save Our Shipments campaign to address supply chain issues.
“I was very fortunate to be interviewed by NBC News last fall regarding the supply chain crisis, and parts of my interview were shown on the Today show and the Nightly News,” she says. “On one hand, showing the world my empty shelves was terrifying, but it was so important for everyone to understand how bad the supply chain was being impacted. Hopefully, showing the public the reality of the situation helped to encourage changes that could make a positive impact for everyone.”