NEW YORK — The National Retail Federation honored three retailers at its curtain-raising lunch here Monday during its 83rd annual convention.

J. Russell Fowler, chairman emeritus of Jacobson Stores, was presented with a Silver Plaque award for nearly 50 years at the Jackson, Mich.-based specialty retailer. Daryl Routzahn, president and chief executive officer of Routzahn & Sons and past chairman of NRF’s small-stores board, read a letter from Gov. John Engler of Michigan praising Fowler for his service.

Frank Gunter, former vice president of taxation at May Department Stores Co., was also honored with a Silver Plaque for his service on NRF’s tax committee.

The Small Retailer of the Year Award was given to Barbara J. Rackes, owner of Rackes Inc., an 18-year-old, three-unit specialty retailer headquartered in Columbia, S.C. Her advice to other small retailers: “Think differently, to meet customers on their terms, and be resilient, to respond quickly to the changes in the marketplace.”

Political humorist Mark Russell entertained the luncheon crowd with his observations on politics and current events.

“I won’t take up much of your time — I know you’re out there trying to take over one another,” he said, adding that Macy’s is due out with a new movie, “‘Miracle on 34th Street II,’ where Santa Claus will be played by Larry Tisch.”