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By: Charles Glaser, RSVA President
(Vendorscope Winter 2010)

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There is an old saying that there is strength in numbers and it is true. This is nowhere more evident than in the Randolph-Sheppard community. There are over twenty-five hundred blind business people managing successful businesses of all sizes in our program. So, how does RSVA and how do we as blind business people use our strength? How should we use it? And what can we do to increase our strength?

RSVA joined other organizations in forming the BEA, to show our strength in Washington. We publish a quarterly magazine to keep blind vendors informed of events that may require us to show our strength. We continue to forge relationships to build strength and buying power across our industry. RSVA has a national convention and The Sagebrush Conference, where this year’s attendees had an opportunity to talk one on one with the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Chairman of the Board of the National Automated Merchandising Association and other leaders of our industry. RSVA shows its strength by sending representatives to legislative seminars and industry conferences.

These are all valuable components of the big picture. In the new economic world we are going to have to do more to protect our program and increase our profitability. We should be more proactive in using our strength by getting in front of the curve on legislative issues, by using our buying power to increase our profits, and by strengthening our affiliations whether they are external or within our own organization.    

Not all challenges to our program start in Washington.  But, often we do not find out about them until they reach congressional offices. Now, more than ever before, it is important for us to know what is going on at the state level.  One example is commercializing of rest areas. We are aware that some state legislatures are considering resolutions to congress proposing that federal law be changed to permit federal interstate highway rest areas to expand food service beyond vending. This is the type of activity where national advocates must work with there state counterparts to protect our jobs.

Clearly efforts are being made on every level to protect our program and increase our income.


We can do better. Modern technology gives us the ability to communicate better and faster. Communication is one of the cornerstones to solidifying our strength.That is why RSVA is making a concerted effort to capture every blind vendor’s contact information. The buck may stop at the top but it starts at the grassroots.

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