The Tribal Convenience Store Association was founded in January 2009. The first meeting occurred at the Emerald Queen Casino in Fife, WA, and was attended by about 15 individuals representing 5 tribes.
Similar to the growth of gaming operations in the tribal community, gas stations and convenience stores are growing rapidly in Indian Country driven predominantly by tribal economic diversification efforts and a high volume of job opportunities.
The purpose of the initial meeting was inspired by a fundamental belief that tribes would benefit from sharing best practices with one another. It was with the spirit of cooperation that the first meeting occurred.
Since its inception, the Tribal Convenience Store Association has grown to include nearly 30 tribes spanning multiple states. The group meets three times per year and each meeting is hosted by a member tribe. The Tribal Convenience Store Association filed for status as a formal non-profit organization in 2012, organized under tribal law. While the intent and purpose of the group remain largely the same, the formalization of the group was important to achieve the next level of growth.
As a formal Association, the Tribal Convenience Store Association is able to generate operating funds. These funds come mainly via membership dues and industry sponsorship. A number of external partners have asked to contribute financially to the group, but this was not possible without becoming a formal entity. Operating funds have allowed the group to add a small staff to help drive membership growth, develop a clear strategic plan, and improve group communication.
Consistent with non-profit status under section 501(c)(6) of the federal tax code, the formation documents for the Tribal Convenience Store Association clearly prohibit the organization from attempting to influence legislation, participating in any political campaign, or publishing or distributing statements with respect to any political campaign or candidate for office.
The group is led by a seven-person Board elected by the Voting Members. Each elected position serves a two-year term.
The Tribal Convenience Store Association is at an exciting time in its history. Membership has grown consistently and recognition of the group is high with our sponsors. In reflecting on our mission statement, the group has done an excellent job establishing a peer network across tribal sites. Additionally, the group has partnered with industry leaders to deliver educational content that broadly benefits the group. The next phase of our growth is to build upon the collective strength of the group to identify new opportunities to grow and expand our businesses.