VAMA: Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association


VAMA stresses the importance of its role in Government Affairs and acting on behalf of its members to advocate for industry matters. One way to ensure that VAMA stays informed on issues that may affect our industry is to continue our relationship with our Legislative Consultant, Jeff Smith.

Jeff Smith, III, The Smith Group, Inc.
4900 Augusta Avenue, Ste. 101
Richmond, VA 23230 
Phone: 804-353-2322


NAMA Urges Safely Reopening Employee Breakrooms

NAMA is working to ensure vending machines, micro markets, office coffee, tea, water, and pantry service can continue to operate in employee breakrooms across the nation.

Click here to take action and send a message to your state elected officials urging the safe reopening breakrooms. Sending your emails through our system is simple.  Just enter your contact information and click send.  The text of the message has already been drafted by NAMA. We also encourage you to share this link with your colleagues as well. 

As you know, on-site vending machines, micro markets, office coffee/tea/water services, and pantry service in employee breakrooms offer employees a safe and effective way to purchase lunches, snacks, and beverages in a contactless, controlled manner. Breakrooms promote social distancing and eliminate the need for employees to travel offsite – engaging in additional interpersonal contact and increasing the risk of exposing colleagues to an outside environment.

Business Task Force Created to Guide Strategy For Easing Restrictions

Northam creates COVID-19 Business Task Force to guide strategy for easing restrictions

RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Ralph Northam announced the creation of the COVID-19 Business Task Force, which will provide advice and guidance to the administration on a “safe and responsible” strategy for easing restrictions on businesses and individuals.

READ NOW: "Forward Virginia Blueprint" presentation

The task force consists of representatives from a variety of Virginia industries, including restaurants, breweries, wineries, small and large retailers, fitness centers, hair salons, barber shops, spas and estheticians, museums, hospitality groups, campgrounds, and entertainment venues.

Click Here for VA's COVID-19 Business Task Force Members

“These are Virginians who are thinking everyday about how to protect the health of their staff and the communities in which they operate,” said Governor Northam. “They understand that our public health and business interests are aligned—we must take measures that both ensure the safety and confidence of consumers and prevent the spread of disease. Their input will continue to be critical as we plan a safe, consistent, successful path forward.”
Additionally, Northam says his administration have continued to consult with numerous businesses, labor, public health, trade, and professional organizations.

Northam says he will outline a blueprint for easing business restrictions at his press conference Friday afternoon. That blueprint will include a plan with a phased approach that is grounded in federal CDC guidelines, and includes specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, contact tracing, and ensuring adequate medical capacity.

NAMA Sends Governors Letter Outlining
Social Distancing Protocols for Office Breakrooms

Click here to find a letter that NAMA sent to all 50 Governors encouraging them to consider social distancing protocols for office breakrooms that allow them to safely operate when re-opening their states for business. The letter includes proposed language that Governors can easily include in re-opening orders and/or guidance. This is part of our continued effort to support the convenience services industry while it provides valuable services in a safe manner during these unprecedented times.

Information from the CDC on the using and making face masks - CLICK HERE

Get the Latest Updates...
How the Coronavirus is Impacting the Vending Industry

Vending Times has daily coverage of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting businesses in the vending industry and what they're doing to overcome the challenges. Click here to read Vending Time's latest stories.

CLICK HERE for Additional COVID-19 articles

Coronavirus Funding Options:

Disaster Relief Programs Simplified - Click Here

Funding Information From the SBA:
Our nation's small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On Friday, March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act, which contains $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses.

Click here to learn more about available SBA loan and debt relief options.

A list of essential and nonessential businesses in Virginia, according to the governor

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The following recreation and entertainment businesses are considered nonessential and must close to the public beginning at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, according to Gov. Ralph Northam: theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums and other indoor entertainment centers.

Governor orders more businesses to close as of midnight Tuesday

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Starting at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and for at least 30 days, there will be no haircuts, no massages, no tanning, no tattoos, no trampolining, no gym-going, and no indoor public amusement outside of the confines of one’s own home. On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all businesses considered recreational or entertainment (see a longer list below) to close.

Virginia K-12 schools closed for remainder of academic year

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered the state’s K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the school year. “School closures are necessary to minimize the speed at which COVID-19 spreads and protect the capacity of our health care system,” he said.

Decision to close schools 'takes your breath away'

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Virginia schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered Monday, a step only one other state has taken in hopes of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus. Northam’s announcement came four days before his first round of mandated school closures was set to expire, on March 27.


Election officials raise questions about safety of upcoming elections

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Electoral boards and registrars across the state are concerned about offering in-person voting for the upcoming May and June elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter sent last week, two associations asked the state to close polling locations and accept only mail-in ballots.


Va. schools closed for rest of year; state educators seek guidance

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Virginia educators hope to receive some clear direction today on how to proceed with instruction after Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday ordered schools closed for the remainder of this academic year. On Monday, Northam directed that all public and private schools in Virginia close as part of sweeping new regulations designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


More than 23,000 hotel jobs lost so far in Va.

By SYDNEY LAKE, Virginia Business

As of Monday, the lodging and hotels industry has lost more than 23,000 jobs in Virginia as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association. The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) on Monday released the results of a study estimating that Virginia’s lodging industry will lose a total of more than 78,000 total direct and indirect jobs before the pandemic is over.

2 Newport News shipyard employees test positive for coronavirus

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Two workers at Newport News Shipbuilding tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, shipyard president Jennifer Boykin reported in a social media message. The first employee was diagnosed over the weekend and called in Monday to report the positive result to the yard. That individual, who works on the second floor of Building 600, has not been on company property since March 16. Yard executives have met with employees who work near the individual and have advised them to check in at the company clinic.

Gun sales spike across Virginia as people worry about coronavirus

By PETER COUTU AND KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The phones are ringing off the hook and firearms flying off the shelves at gun shops around Hampton Roads. “We’re jammed,” said one guy who answered the phone at Superior Pawn & Gun in Virginia Beach, which hosted an outdoor “social distancing friendly” gun event on Friday.


HRT to end ferry service early starting Wednesday

Southside Daily

Elizabeth River Ferry is ending its daily and weekend service 9 p.m. starting Wednesday in response to coronavirus (COVID19). In addition, Hampton Roads Transit also announced on Monday that it will accelerate the cleaning of its vehicles, transit centers and administrative offices using disinfecting agents delivered with an electrostatic misting device that disinfects all surfaces, including hard-to-reach areas.


Watch how coronavirus has spread throughout Virginia, reaching 39 cities and counties

By PETER COUTU, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A little more than two weeks ago, Virginia saw its first case of the novel coronavirus. A U.S. Marine assigned to Fort Belvoir tested positive for COVID-19 on March 7. A few days later, it reached Hampton Roads, with a couple testing positive after going on a Nile River Cruise. . . . By Sunday, at least 219 people — an increase of 67 from Saturday — had tested positive for the virus, likely a fraction of the total outbreak in Virginia due to limited testing and a lag in reporting from state officials.

Virginia Beach Health Department reports first coronavirus death

By JESSICA NOLTE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Beach Health Department reported Monday its first death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The patient was a man in his 70s, according to a news release from the health department. He was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

Jefferson Lab suspends operations out of concern about coronavirus spread

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Jefferson Lab suspended on-campus operations Monday and began procedures to shut down the facility. The aim is to bring the the U.S. Department of Energy research facility into an idled, safe and stable configuration by Friday.

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities add new restrictions to curb COVID-19. Will they be enough?

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

By March 12, Westminster Canterbury Richmond — a nearly 900-resident senior living facility near the city’s picturesque Bellevue neighborhood — was on lockdown. That day, staff got the news that a resident in neighboring Hanover County had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. The proximity of the case activated the emergency response plan at Westminster Canterbury, which offers independent and assisted living as well as a nursing facility, said CEO John Burns. . . .The strict new measures still didn’t prevent COVID-19 from getting in.

Navy hospital ship docked in Norfolk could take weeks getting to New York

Southside Daily

As the Navy gears up to send hospital ships to areas hit hard by the Coronavirus (COVID 19), the one heading to New York likely won’t be ready to operate there for weeks, defense officials said. President Donald Trump said Sunday the Navy’s pair of hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and its sister ship, the USNS Mercy will soon be stationed on the East and West coasts to help relieve stress on American medical facilities.

Want to make masks for hospitals? Some might not know how to make use of them.

By ELISHA SAUERS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Girl Scouts are stitching like the wind. A regional crafting group is sourcing elastic to do its part. As with national crises of the past, people with good intentions are searching for ways to support the cause. With ample social-distancing time on their hands, community volunteers got busy this week sewing masks for their hospitals, which are low on protective supplies.

As COVID-19 spreads, Virginia coal mines remain open

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Coal mining continues in Southwest Virginia even as workplace constraints prevent miners from following many of the social distancing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Monday, all of Virginia’s coal and mineral mines that had been open before the appearance of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, were still operating, said Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy spokesperson Tarah Kesterson.

EVMS urges at least 145 students and faculty to quarantine after a positive case

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

An Eastern Virginia Medical School student training to be a physician assistant was infected with the coronavirus after coming into contact with a patient suspected of having it. The student, who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, self-reported the illness to school officials, said Vincent Rhodes, an EVMS spokesman.

United Way reports big needs on Peninsula as coronavirus hits nonprofits hard

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

In one of Virginia’s COVID-19 hotspots, the coronavirus is tearing at the social safety net that the Peninsula’s volunteer and nonprofit agencies run. School closings and stay-at-home directives mean groups are struggling to find ways to deliver critical services to some of the Peninsula’s most vulnerable, said Steve Kast, president of the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula.

VAMA Leads Process for Variance Request for Micro-Markets with VDACS

Your VAMA Leadership has been hard at work on tasks to improve the business climate in the state of Virginia – this will help all operators both VAMA member and non-member companies. One of those tasks was to obtain a variance request for Micro-Markets which we define as unattended retail establishments.   In Virginia, the law states that there must be a person at any "food" establishment.  In order to operate a Micro-Market we need to obtain a variance to this and show processes that the operator has in place to insure food safety. Our desire here is to create uniformity with this new process and give you guidance as you obtain your own variance for your individual company.  A member of the VAMA Board has received final approval and we would like to share the process with you since we have a clear understanding what VDACS is looking for in this variance request.  We have attached the letter sent to Senator McDougle from VADCS that clarified their position on the matter.

Below are the 3 steps required by VDACS to acquire approval:

  1. Fill out the variance request application
    Simply fill out the information requested and in the box that asks for “list of processes or operations requiring a variance…”, insert your company name in this box.
  2. List of each Micro-Market address: 
    Please list all addresses where these Micro-Markets exists.  There is no requirement to list the "business name" where the Micro-Market is located, just the address of the locations to be covered under the blanket variance.
  3. Written Request to VDACS: 
    Lastly, operators will need to file a written request for the variance application. As stated earlier, in order to operate a Micro-Market we need to obtain a variance to this and show processes that the operator has to insure food safety. Attached is a guidance for unattended food establishments and there are seven (7) categories that need to be addressed with subcategories for guidance. Each category does not need to have a separate paragraph but each category needs to be addressed.  (see attached Word document TEMPLATE for you to use…the first couple paragraphs are generic but the highlighted areas should be re-written for your company’s need in applying for this variance.)


After completing these three (3) steps above, please email your variance application and your variance application request letter to Pam Miles (Office of Dairy and Foods) at and wait for their reply with their ruling.
Our goal here is to continue to provide tools to our Operator members that enable your businesses to remain strong and in compliance of the laws set forth. VAMA is at work FOR YOU! 

Not sure if you are a member of VAMA?
Email to ask any questions you might have or visit our website today.

Legislative Update
SB 414 "Micro-Market Act"

Our Lobbyist team at The Smith Group continue to work hard for our cause and they provide updates as the come in.  The VAMA Board continues its goal of passing SB 414. 
Please see the following updates that have come in and email with any questions/comments you may have.

February 1, 2018

As you may be aware we continue to move SB 414 through the Senate with very strong votes, but the fiscal impact statement by VDACS has slowed things down.
Initially in the original bill as drafted VDACS came in at the committee (silent up til that point) and indicated a $235 k impact where they would need 3 people. Senate committee still approved the bill  11-1. During the next few days we worked with VDACS and Senate committee members and Jeff IV came up with an amendment to change  permitting/penalties  to a registration only at VDACS on line with just a link portal in their web site------VDACS came back after the Senate committee approved that version 14-1 and said the fiscal impact now would be $87k.
It would be helpful if you could research and advise what fiscal impact there was in GA and Indiana as examples---------this would be helpful as it relates to those states permitting approach, where ours now is just a registration approach to start.
Link to SB 414 and movement here:

January 30, 2018

VAMA worked with our Patron McDougle and staff to address VDACS latest response to our amendment in nature of substitute(ANS) for SB 414 to address potential fiscal impact.

As reported during our Friday VAMA meeting in Richmond, we had amended SB 414 to make it a registration through online portal at VDACS which according to them would move the fiscal impact from the original $235 k + down to somewhere around $87k or one new person--------we argued all day yesterday that was not needed and particularly with VDACS indicating that it could be covered by maybe a $40.00 registration fee per location?  Again, we said not needed and not doing locations-------

So the bill (ANS) came up this morning at 9:00 am in Senate finance where they voted on it and passed 14-1 but will continue to review there in budget work  to figure out the fiscal impact amount and if maybe something  less than $87k can be found in budget negotiations?  So remains in Senate finance committee for now as we have reported.

The one person voting against SB 414 today was Sen Dunnavant ( R ) from VA Beach----she is a DR and indicated she has one of these micro markets in her hospital and it is great with all employees loving it and sees absolutely no sense in regulating these facilities since not regulated now-----  her position is amend the ANS so it would basically say  "No state or local health or agriculture departments may regulate Micro Markets."

Other Rep's take a different view in that the registration concept is all we need, so we will continue the path of trying to obtain funding for the VDACS position and maybe reducing it even further if we can---------

We will keep you posted on this and if we need to reach out again further with Finance Committee but for now trying to make sure VDACS doesn't come back with some exorbitant registration fee suggestion per location to fund their "smoke and mirror fiscal  impact report".

Thank you for all this support and circle back with any questions-----

January 23, 2018

By now you are aware of the hectic pace that quickly takes off,  then sits only to take off again------(3000 bills in 60 days)
This morning we were advised that SB 414 will be heard tomorrow am in Senate Finance Committee for final committee action and we need for you to send out this morning and again this afternoon the VAMA support paper on SB 414 to each Senate Finance Committee member please.

Here is the link to committee members and contacts.

Request for MicroMarket Numbers In VA
SB 414

Hello VAMA Members:

As you may know, VAMA is currently working on legislation surrounding the passing of SB 414. The state has concerns that it may need to hire several people to inspect the state’s MicroMarkets.  There are budgeting concerns surrounding this that may impacting MicroMarket licensing fees. Our objective is to have a single permit that covers all markets rather than individual market permits. VAMA needs your help to compile some industry data!

Our lobbyist, Jeff Smith III, has requested that we provide him with the total number of MicroMarkets in our state. We would appreciate our membership’s help in determining the number of MicroMarkets in the state. VAMA would like members to email Beth and Michelle at, with the number of MicroMarkets in your company. This would be a private list where only the total number of MicroMarkets in the state will be reported to Jeff Smith.

Your assistance with this effort is most appreciative and will help in our efforts to create MicroMarket legislation that serves our industry best.


January 16, 2018

VAMA Legislative Bulletin 

Dear VAMA member - a note from our lobbyist, Jeff Smith III:

The 60 day regular session of the 2018 General Assembly convened Wednesday and here are some of the recent organizational changes taking place since the November elections:

Republicans will hold a 51-49 majority in the House with Delegate Kirk Cox (R) being elected the new Speaker of the House.  Del Cox has reorganized all House committees based on the transformed House from November elections.  Republicans hold a 21-19 majority in the Senate and were not involved in elections this past November, but face reelection in 2019 along with the House again.  At this very early point there seems to be a real sense of cooperation between the parties as demonstrated with committee assignments,  but certainly think could change as they dig deeper into more controversial issues later.

We are pleased to report that SB 414 the Micro Market legislation passed Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday 11-0-1 abstention.  The abstention from Sen Sutterlein (R ) from Roanoke area thinking the penalty too stiff with permitting requirement.  SB 414 was the first bill acted on and past by Sen AG for the 2018 session!  As reported things move fast and should be on the Senate floor for further votes next week.  It will then go to the House which by that time things will be a bit more settled down from all the changes-thus why we went in the Senate direction first.

Further, today we learned that VA Dept of AG and Consumer Services have indicated a fiscal impact for additional people to issue permits / audit-----will keep you updated on this new piece-------

VA Public Access Project has provided a link for the following:
    •    List of five new committee chairs
    •    List of all returning members who changed committees
    •    List of all assignments for each of the 19 freshmen members

View: 2018 House Committee Assignments

Click here for our link to the VAMA Legislative Bulletin for bills offered so far and any questions feel free to circle back.  Thank you for your support in contacting legislators!

SB 414 Introduced
Contact Your Legislator TODAY!

Dear VAMA member:

Things are moving VERY FAST and your association is hard a work for you!  Please read below for some Legislative work we are doing to protect your businesses!

VAMA has been working with our lobbyists on legislation to define micro markets and it was introduced by Senator McDougal, now called SB 414:  Micro Market Act that will establish minimum standards for the operation of a micro market and provide that any person who operates a micro market without the required permit or violates a condition of such permit is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Find the Full text of the bill here:  01/09/18  Senate: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18104431D

SB 414 is on the Senate Agriculture Committee docket for tomorrow afternoon and given the number of bills not sure if it will come up but anything on the docket is fair game to be heard.  Our lobbyists will be on hand but we wanted to alert you to the good news.  See the attached information sheet that you can send when you contact any committee members that you know (or live in their districts).  Encourage them to support this legislation and if they have any questions, to reach out to the VAMA office. 

Please see phone and email addresses for each committee member below:

Chairman Stuart:  (804) 698-7528, 
Hanger:  (804) 698-7524. 
Ruff:   (804) 698-7571,
Obenshain:    (804) 698-7526, 
Petersen:  (804) 698-7534, 
Marsden:  (804) 698-7537,
Stanley:  (804) 698-7520, 
Black:  (804) 698-7513,
Ebbin:  (804) 698-7530,
Lewis:  (804) 698-7506,
Chafin:  (804) 698-7538,
Dance:  (804) 698-7516,
Suetterlein (804) 698-7519,
Mason:  (804) 698-7501,
McClellan:  (804) 698-7509,


VAMA: Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association

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