|ICRS attendance up again, feedback positive|
|Thursday, 19 July 2012 10:05 AM EDT|
Primarily representing buyers, professional attendance at the show in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., held July 15-18, was 1,756, 0.5% over last year when the event was in Atlanta. Total attendance was up 1.5% to 4,990, while international attendance was down 14.6% to 368 attendees from 59 countries.
Given the challenging economy and other factors impacting retailing in general, "I believe the retailers who are here have a renewed passion," CBA Executive Director Curtis Riskey, told Christian Retailing near the show's end. "The idea of fair trade in Christian retailing seems to align with [retailers' mission] and create a sweet spot. I would have to say that the show was a success. ... I feel very happy and fortunate that was attendance up."
George Thomsen, chairman of the CBA board and general manager of Harvest Bookstore in Riverside, Calif., added: "I had vendors I tried to see and I wasn't able to see them because they were booked with appointments. Overall, the show was positive and upbeat."
Russ Schwartz, vice president of independent retail sales for Thomas Nelson, said the company had more than 150 meetings in its conference area on the exhibit floor with people across all Christian retail sales channels, plus impromptu meetings in the hall. "It's been great," he said. "We met with our valuable partners to find new ways to grow our business together and continue to do business."
John Whitaker, vice president of Anchor Distributors, said the company's large booth, which it shared with sister company Whitaker House, had busy traffic. "It was a good show, and better than last year," he said.
Bill White, director of sales for apparel company NOTW, said the show was "the best ICRS we've attended in seven years." "It's been busy," he said. "We've been penned in with the constant traffic. The retailers here are the survivors, the remnant. They're the ones figuring out ways to make it work."
Joshua Williams—manager of The Salt Shaker Christian Bookstore in Enumclaw, Wash., an hour south of Seattle—said ICRS was a great show. "I did a lot more buying this year since the recession hit in 2008," he said. "I was excited to get new products."
Read our complete coverage of ICRS in the September issue of Christian Retailing.