VRGA works to provide our members with the knowledge necessary to succeed as a business. If you have a topic of interest for a webinar, information session, seminar, or round table please let us know. Email info@vtrga.org with your ideas!

Upcoming Webinars

VRGA is planning a series of webinars for 2021. Updated information will be made available as plans are solidified on our events page found here.

Past Webinars and Recorded Seminars

Our prior webinars are below, organized by topic.

Marketing and Social Media Webinars

Getting started with virtual retail in the Covid19 era

With the closure of businesses nationwide, the ability to sell product direct to consumer online is more important than ever. Jacob Dubois, founder of Burlington based UpTown Cow, leads this session on virtual retail platforms. Uptown Cow is a full service e-commerce management company that works with clients to grow their online sales.

Jacob covers how to get started with online selling platforms, plugins, photography tips, and more. You'll leave the session with a solid understanding of how to get your e-commerce program up and running.

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

Social Media 101: The Basics of Facebook and Instagram for Business

Molly Goodyear, founder of 802Social, leads this session focused on the basics of instagram and facebook for businesses. From best practices for account setup to post examples, general trends, and more, this session will provide what you need to get your accounts up and running!

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

COVID-19 Information

DOL Unemployment Guidance and Trust Fund Update

DOL Commissioner Michael Harrington and UI & Wages Division Director Cameron Wood will help employers better understand what they and their employees should do to successfully utilize the unemployment system during the COVID pandemic and other future downturns.Also discussed will be changes to the unemployment tax rate schedule and the potential increase businesses will be facing next year under the current system.

Watch the Recorded Webinar here

Handling Employee Health, Safety, and Quarantine During COVID-19

Kristina Brines, Director, Paul Frank + Collins will lead this session focused on managing the health and safety needs of employees including how to handle employee quarantines, what to do about workplace COVID exposure, and any new info about mandated FFCRA leave available at the time of the webinar.

Watch the Recorded Webinar here

Managing Employee Health, Safety, and Quarantine During COVID-19

Kristina Brines, Director, Paul Frank + Collins leads this session focused on managing the health and safety needs of employees including how to handle employee quarantines, what to do about workplace COVID exposure, and the future of FFCRA.

Watch the Recorded Webinar here

Planning for Business Interruption: COVID and Beyond

In preparation for unforeseen business interruptions in the future or a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, a crisis management plan is important for your business long-term. These two webinars will highlight the important pieces you should consider when drafting a plan for your business. You will come away with clear objectives and tools to help create and implement your plan.

In the spirit of cooperation during these hard times, these Webinars are FREE for all. If you believe there are businesses that would benefit from this information, please feel free to share.

Watch the Recorded Webinar here

(Aired July 22nd) Part 1: Making a Profit - Financial Planning & Resources
Presentation by Ted LeBow, Kitchen Table Consultants; Resource Update by Cassandra LaRae-Perez, Gravel & Shea

How do you know if you’re profitable? Kitchen Table Consultants intertwined an actual case study of a specialty food processor that learned how to do this and shared actual tips and tools. In this 30 minute session they stepped (quickly) through the following: Setting your books up to tell a profit story, How do measure your profit on a daily basis, and How to identify your most critical numbers and benchmark them.

Missed this webinar? Catch up with the recording and supporting documents:

Watch the recorded webinar KTC Chart of Accounts KTC Schedule Tool

(Aired July 29th) Part 2: HR & Employee Safety
Do you have a business continuity plan? This session will walk you through why you need one and the steps to take when starting a plan...

Shannon Prescott of The Richards Group will discuss what is Business Continuity planning, why it is important and how businesses get started with a plan. Shannon will use the example of COVID and planning now for the potential Fall surge, but also touch on other situations that businesses should think about for overall crisis management.

Heather Rider Hammond of Gravel & Shea shares that when COVID-19 hit, businesses were forced to make many quick and difficult decisions about their employees in a rapidly changing and uncertain environment. In her presentation, we will look at what has changed since the early days of the pandemic (FFCRA, unemployment, etc) and what has not changed (ADA, FMLA, FEPA, etc.). We’ll discuss strategies to incorporate practical and legally-sound employment policies into your business continuity plan.

Presenters: Shannon Prescott, The Richards Group; Heather Rider Hammond, Gravel & Shea; Cassandra LaRae-Perez, Gravel & Shea

Watch the Recorded Webinar here

Maximizing PPP Loan Forgiveness by Downs Rachlin Martin

For businesses that received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the rules are still being refined, regulations continue to evolve and new guidance continues to be published. Despite the rapidly evolving nature of the PPP, this webinar will help you position your business to maximize the amount of loan forgiveness during this period of uncertainty.

In this webinar, Scott Jaunich, Mary Parent, and Walter Judge will cover the latest developments, including:

  1. When does the 8 week period begin?
  2. The potential significance of "Incurred and Paid"
  3. What are forgivable expenses and are there restrictions?
  4. How do employment decisions and wage adjustments impact loan forgiveness?
  5. Are payments made with PPP funds deductible?
  6. How is the forgiven amount calculated?
  7. What documentation do I need to provide to support maximum loan forgiveness?
  8. What is my "audit" risk?

If you have questions that you would like addressed during the webinar, please direct them to Jolie Frechette in advance of the webinar at jfrechette@drm.com.

Watch the Webinar Here

Dealing with Workplace Conflict During COVID-19
A Panel Discussion and Q&A

As tensions rise during the COVID-19 Pandemic, stores have been dealing with more conflict in the workplace than ever before. Whether it's customer against employee or customer against customer, arguments and physical conflict seem to be increasing. What can you do to be prepared and handle these incidents?

This webinar features a panel of HR, Security, Law Enforcement and Legal professionals who will provide you with the knowledge you need to deal with incidents of workplace conflict.


Shannon Prescott, of The Richards Group, assists clients with compliance and safety program evaluation and implementation. Shannon will speak to the policies and practices you should have in place to prepare for an incident of workplace violence.

Kerin Stackpole is a Director at Paul Frank + Collins in Burlington, and is the leader of the Employment and Labor Law Group. Her practice areas include employment law, business counseling and general civil litigation. Kerin will speak towards the legal ramifications of workplace conflict, how to instruct staff response to stay within your legal abilities, and how she has worked with various businesses to keep their security programs legally compliant.

Chris Mecca is Safety and Security Manager for City Market. Chris will share how he works daily to ensure the safety of staff and customers at both City Market locations. With over four years at City Market alone, and a decade plus in security operations, Chris will share how he has successfully prepared for and handled incidents of workplace conflict in the real world.

Mark Carignan is Captain at the Bennington Police Department. Mark will offer tips and strategies for de-escalating when confronted, how to keep staff and customers safe if someone becomes violent and what you can and can't do to respond to these types of aggression.

Watch the Webinar Here

How to Retail in the time of COVID-19

Presenter: Bob Phibbs, known as the Retail Doctor. Bob has worked with hundreds of large retail brands including Bernina, LEGO, and Yamaha, as well as the smallest mom and pops, and everything in between.

We know you have been struggling ... and we want to help. VRGA in conjunction with the Council of State Retail Associations (CSRA), is hosting a webinar that will refocus your retail plan to not only survive COVID-19, but help you thrive!

This webinar is different from the traditional “woe is me” message. It will get you focused on something positive. The webinar covers how store operations must change, how to market yourself -- including the do’s and don’ts of Facebook live -- and how to get in the right mindset to not just survive but to win as stores re-open.

This free course from Bob aims to help you develop a plan for reopening as well as train your staff how to interact with customers in this new normal -- to care for them rather than wait on them.

This course includes these 8 lessons, based on questions submitted from retailers all over the world:

The course also includes 5 role play exercises to download and use with your staff.

Course on Reopening Retail and Rebuilding Trust

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

How to Stay Growth-Oriented and Resilient in Your Retail, Grocery, or Specialty Foods Business

This interactive online workshop from DowntownUp will give you strategic tools, perspectives, and support to sustain and grow your business during the COVID-19 crisis and come out strong as the crisis passes. We will avoid getting stuck in the whirlwind of fear and uncertainty and instead help you create a focused, doable action plan based squarely on what you have proactive control over that will give your business an edge for growth and on-going resiliency.

View the Online Marketing Referrals here

View the Slide Deck here

Watch the recorded Webinar here

What You Need to Know About COVID-19

VSFA and VRGA collaborated with UVM Extension to present some basic information about the virus (SARS-CoV-2), the disease (COVID-19), and additional online resources. We respond to some of the questions we have received about COVID-19 in the context of the daily activities of food manufacturer/food handler

Watch the recorded webinar here

Doing Business in these Uncertain Times

Presented by Paul Frank + Collins P.C. on 3/25, VSFA and VRGA members joined Senior Partners Karen Stackpole, Kris Brines, Chris Leff, Shane McCormack, and Bob DiPalma from Paul Frank + Collins for a live webinar to discuss employment issues, financing issues, contact problems and related questions that may arise as this pandemic continues to evolve. Download the slide presentation.

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here


Business Planning in Uncertain Times

The business world has changed radically in recent months and more change is coming. Business owners need to make tough decisions to survive and, ultimately, to adapt their business models to the new reality that emerges. There are great risks, but also great opportunities for the businesses that navigate the next several months successfully.

Bryan Ducharme of Venture 7 Advisors presents three different analytical tools that any business owner can use to make data-driven decisions at a time when emotions are running high and business outlooks are changing on a daily basis. He reviews each model in detail discussing its purpose, its strengths and limitations. Download the slide presentation.

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

A Clear and Present Danger to Retailers

Management One is the leader in retail consulting. To help provide a clear outline of the possible impact to our industry from the growing coronavirus epidemic, they have gathered a collection of experts across multiple sectors of the retail industry. After gathering all of the data provided by their network of retail experts, they quickly realized this was MUCH more than a simple, 1-hour presentation. So they created a 6 Part Webinar Series. From shifting marketing strategies, assessing financial options and analyzing internal business processes, they felt retailers would benefit most from a deeper dive that unpacked these issues in more detail.

Webinar: You’re Store may be closed but your Business isn't.
Webinar: The Art of Landlord Negotiation
Webinar: The Secret to Online Success for Brick & Mortar Retailers
Webinar: The New Era of Vendor/Retail Relationships During COVID-19
Tutorial: Setting up your 12-week cash flow using the FREE budget template from Management One. Visit their website to find the template.
Webinar: The Retailer’s Guide to the Economic Stimulus Package

VSFA and Partner Webinars

VSFA E-Commerce Series

The Vermont Specialty Food Association has developed this webinar series in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. This series focuses on certain aspects of E-Commerce for companies looking to expand, leverage, and grow their current E-Commerce business. Thank you to Lean Edge Marketing and KW Content for sharing their expertise and developing these sessions with us.

1.Optimizing your E-Commerce Strategy, Presented by Bud Reed, from Lean Edge Marketing

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

Best Google Analytics Reports - Lean Edge

2. Selling on Amazon, Presented by Tom Funk, from Lean Edge Marketing

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

3. Digital Communication with Consumers: Business Growth, Presented by Katie Wight, from KW Content

Watch the Recorded Webinar Here

Slide Presentation

Marketing Terms Glossary - KW Content

Trade Spend: What is it? How much does it cost? Where to Account for it?

This webinar will provide an introduction to Trade Spend: the amount a company spends to increase demand for its products, including coupons, preferential shelf display locations (slotting), co-advertising, and more. During this webinar you'll learn distributor and retailer expectations, accounting for Trade Spend, and how to leverage this knowledge in negotiations and profitability planning.

In the spirit of cooperation during these hard times, these Webinars are FREE for all. If you believe there are businesses that would benefit from this information, please feel free to share.

Watch the Recorded Webinar

Regulatory and Legislative Webinars

Act 69 - Plastic Bag Ban

Alyssa Eiklor of the Agency of Natural Resources lead this information session on the upcoming single use products and plastic bag ban, effective July 1, 2020.

We covered what is/isn't legal, alternatives to banned items, SNAP and how it relates to the paper bag fee, and more!

Clean Your Bags Flyer

Watch the Webinar Here

View our full page on Act 69 and Act 148

DEC Act 148

Act 148, Vermont's Universal Recycling Law, went into full effect July 1, 2020. On that date, all organic waste (food scraps etc) had to be diverted from the waste stream. The Department of Environmental Conservation partnered with us to offer information on what the ban entails, how to be in compliance with the legislation, how the ban is being enforced and more.

View the Recording Here

Slide Deck

View the Slide Deck Here

View the Slide Deck Here