Question: Isn’t GMA membership only for retailers and stores?
Not at all. GMA was officially founded in 1906 by businessman J. M. Hendrix, owner of a dry goods store, in an effort to create a spirit of cooperation among downtown merchants. Through GMA, a group of center city businesses joined together to promote downtown commerce, organize promotions, share resources and champion community initiatives. One of the services the new organization provided was a book of credits, which provided payment history information on consumers. This service was the precursor to the credit information and collections company known today as FirstPoint, Inc. that provides resources to GMA. In the late 20th century, as the retailing industry moved to the suburbs and on the internet, the needs of the GMA membership evolved as well. GMA was able to expand services and programs to meet the demand and those services also appealed to a much broader category of membership. GMA’s bylaws allow any company that does commerce in Guilford County to become a member. By the simplest definition, merchant is defined as a buyer or seller of goods and services. Most companies would fall under this definition. GMA chooses to honor our long history and roots in the retail industry by keeping our name as Guilford Merchants Association.