THE Bendigo Traders Association is urging local business owners to join its organisation.
Secretary Martin Ruffell said the organisation had existed for about 20 years and played an important role in promoting Bendigo businesses.
"We're looking to be more of an advocacy group," Mr Ruffell said.
"The more members we get the stronger we can be.
"We consider ourselves a discussion group, where people can discuss issues retailers face.
"We want people to come to Bendigo to spend their money and not go elsewhere."
Mr Ruffell said prior to 2012 the association received an annual budget of $300,000 from the council - paid for by tax levies on local businesses.
But in 2012 the levy was scrapped and the association's power in turn diminished, Mr Ruffell said.
The association was rebuilding and launching a campaign to get other business owners on board, he said.
Examples of ways the association could promote businesses in Bendigo included lobbying the council and other organisations and providing advice to people who were struggling.
"We're all in business and sometimes you can feel like you're an island," he said.
"Retail has been going through a revolution with internet sales so retail has been very difficult in the past few months."
One reason some businesses weren't performing well was because of the prominence of sales throughout the year, Mr Ruffell said.
He said sales were no longer as effective as they were in the past and people paid little attention to them.
Membership is a flat rate of $50 for 12 months.
Monthly meetings take place at Ruffell Jewellers on Mitchell Street and sometimes include guest speakers.
A fortnightly newsletter is distributed to inform members of issues and activities in the CBD.
To join, call Martin Ruffell on 5443-5755.