Empowering Our Future Through The Ballot Box

Nick Bhullar, NCASEF Executive Vice Chair

Our 7-Eleven business isn’t only about selling products, it’s about being a vital part of the community and a source of convenience in our customers’ busy lives. But as we navigate the waters of commerce, we are increasingly finding ourselves at the mercy of decisions made far from our well-lit aisles and friendly counters. The truth is, more and more our businesses are being influenced by the people that craft our laws. This is why I ask each one of you to vote with the future of our stores in mind this election season.

In a retail landscape dotted with giants, small businesses like ours need advocates in government. From the corridors of local municipalities to the halls of Congress, decisions are being made that directly impact our operations, our profitability, and our ability to serve our communities. We need lawmakers who understand that decisions like credit card swipe fees, menthol bans, raising tobacco license fees, and swift increases in the minimum hourly wage are more than lines in a legislative document, they are currents that can either sweep our businesses to prosperous shores or sink us into troubled waters.

In regard to credit card swipe fees, every time a customer swipes their card, a portion of our hard-earned revenue disappears into a fee. We need representatives who see the value in regulating these fees, ensuring they are fair and do not disproportionately impact small businesses like ours. The balance here is delicate—we are not against the convenience of card payments, but against the unfair burden of excessive fees.

The proposed bans on menthol and other tobacco products are another battleground. While public health is important, abrupt bans without considering the impact on businesses like ours are not the solution. We need legislators who will work with us to find a balance between public health concerns and the economic realities of stores that rely on these sales.

Rising tobacco license fees are a similar concern. Increases in these fees must be balanced with the realities of our operating costs. They should not be punitive, but reflective of a cooperative approach between government and businesses.

Wage policies, particularly around raising the minimum hourly wage, are a critical concern. While we all support fair wages, a sudden and steep increase can be a shock to the system of small businesses. We need lawmakers who understand the need for a phased approach, giving businesses like ours time to adapt without compromising our bottom lines.

Lastly, the rising tide of retail crime is a concern that keeps many of us awake at night. We need strong support from law enforcement and the legal system to protect our employees, our customers, and our investments. Legislators who prioritize effective measures against retail crime will have a direct positive impact on our businesses and communities.

As we stand on the eve of these elections, I urge you to think of these issues as you cast your vote. It’s about choosing representatives who understand the heartbeat of small businesses, who recognize the challenges we face, and who are willing to work alongside us for solutions that benefit our stores and our communities as a whole.

 Together, we can make a difference. Let’s go to the polls and vote for the change we want to see. Let’s vote for the future of our businesses and our communities. Let’s vote for a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow.