Retail attendance ‘about the same’ as last year’s Pennsylvania expo, but 2013 show was ‘productive’ for stores
Munce Group’s CPE (Christian Product Expo) returned to its longtime venue in Hershey, Pa., in January with retailers attending from 100 stores.
Munce Group President Kirk Blank told Christian Retailing that “we were all happy to be back in Hershey.”
“We had a few more vendors than last year, and a significant increase in authors and speakers,” he said. “Attendance overall was up. Retail attendance was about the same.”
Held Jan. 20-22, CPE Hershey drew nearly 200 retailers. The event featured the theme from 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
In 2012, CPE was held at the Lancaster Convention Center in Lancaster, Pa., but the marketing group decided to bring the show back to the Hershey Lodge after receiving feedback from vendors and retailers.
“These two days are as productive as two weeks in-store,” said Michelle Bails, manager of Lion and Lamb: A New Beginning in Niles, Ohio.
Lee Yeckel, sales director for Anchor Distributors, said the event was a success.
“It is a great way to meet other suppliers and distributors and gain knowledge into the Christian bookstore marketplace,” Yeckel said. “Being new to this industry, I was so pleased at the friendly, caring and sharing attitude of all involved. This show is a true blessing.”
CPE Hershey kicked off Jan. 20 with a Bible conference led by authors Linda Evans Shepherd (When You Need a Miracle, Revell/Baker Publishing Group) and Johnnie Moore (Dirty God, Thomas Nelson) followed by a special dinner with author and producer Bill Myers and Dwight Mason, author of Only God (Barbour Publishing) during the Night of Worship.
Following the Night of Worship, there were screenings of Ring the Bell (Provident Distribution) and Home Run (Provident Films), scheduled to hit theaters April 19.
“We love CPE,” said Bill White, vice president of sales for NOTW. “This was only our second show, but the business we do there is growing with each event. The size and location of the shows provide an intimacy that just isn’t achieved in other tradeshow venues.”
The Christian Authors Network (CAN) gave away more than $3,000 worth of books during CPE Hershey. More than 100 retailers attended the Jan. 21 breakfast event, where they learned about new releases from CAN authors and how to increase store traffic. Three winners each received more than $1,000 worth of books from Zondervan, Abingdon Press, Tyndale House Publishers and Revell/Baker Publishing Group.
“I’ve never won anything before,” said Theresa Hanley of Solid Rock Café in Chalfont, Pa.
The other two winners were Nanette Jones of The Branch in Dover, Del., and Mary Rajasekhar of Olivet Books and Gifts in Alpina, Mich.
“We can use these new books to build awareness of authors,” Jones said. “We’ll also use some to bless our loyal customers and some for people who like to shop at the store, but can’t afford to buy much.”
Rajasekhar added: “Getting to know authors on a more personal level is great. We also like to get to know our customers personally. Then when we see something we know a certain customer will like we think, ‘That’s exactly what they need.’ ”
Munce Group formed a partnership last June with CAN, a marketing co-op with more than 100 members, which seeks to educate authors and promote their books.
Bonnie Calhoun, president of CAN, said that the partnership “is helping our authors get into the hands of many more retailers, and it is supplying retailers with great products to sell.”
Munce, which serves more than 500 stores nationwide, emphasizes order-writing at CPE by motivating retailers with a reimbursement program that helps to offset travel, food and hotel expenses.
Munce’s next CPE is set for Sept. 22-24 at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tenn.