COVID-19 Retail Advisory Group Recommendations Available Here

Home / About / Who We Are

Who We Are

The Voice for Retail in Maryland

office-2The Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) consists of thousands of retailers across the state. As the retail community’s major trade association, MRA is a diverse and broad-based organization covering all segments of the retail industry. MRA not only represents the traditional retail business industry in Maryland, but also manages the Tri State Jewelers Association for jewelers in Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.; the Maryland Chain Drug Store Association; and the Maryland Food Dealers Council. Additionally, MRA advocates for local businesses across the state through its official partnership with the Maryland Main Street Program.

Operating under the belief that merchants can achieve more as a group than any one business owner acting alone, MRA is dedicated solely to the interests of the retail community. Whether it be advocating before elected officials or speaking to the media, MRA is the voice of retail in Maryland.

In addition to advocacy and public relations, MRA’s benefit partners offer discounted services that save members substantial operating dollars and give businesses a competitive edge.


The Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) is dedicated to the interests and progress of the retail and business industries. MRA brings the full weight of the merchant community to help any one member or segment.


Motivated by the 1947 passage of legislation that would establish a state sales tax in Maryland, local merchants started discussing the need for a statewide organization to give the industry a statewide presence. The Special Committee of the Retail Merchants Association of Baltimore met with merchants “from the counties” at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore. Led by Sam Hecht of Baltimore and Bob Black of Silver Spring, the merchants decided to form a statewide organization. The Certification of Incorporation for the Council of Retail Merchants was filed on November 17, 1948. Odello Leiter of Hagerstown was elected chairman and Sam Hecht vice-chairman as Maryland merchants started this new endeavor which continues today.

Much has changed since 1948, including name changes to the Maryland Retail Merchants Association in 1968 and the Maryland Retailers Association in 1995. Sandwiched in between was the move from Baltimore to Annapolis in 1985, underscoring MRA’s statewide focus and giving the industry a permanent presence in the State Capital.

MRA’s services have greatly expanded since 1948 to stay abreast of the needs of its members. MRA operates today as a contemporary organization well aware of the rapid technological and economic changes shaping today’s retail marketplace. Government relations and legislative advocacy, however, remain the hallmark of MRA. The words of MRA’s past Chairman Atlee Wampler in 1954 still ring true today: “From indications, both National and Local, it is becoming evident that business as a whole and retailing specifically, will be subject to numerous legislative onslaughts… bill’s effecting business are being defeated… they will be introduced and re-introduced and business must be on the alert. Apathy…must be tossed aside and an active, aggressive interest in national and local legislation submitted.”