|Munce Expo sees attendance increase, 'home run' sales|
|Wednesday, 26 September 2012 11:00 PM EDT|
Despite a continuing challenging economy, Christian Product Expo (CPE) Murfreesboro 2012 saw an increase in retailer and supplier attendance compared to last year's Munce Group fall show.
More than 400 retailers and vendors attended the ninth annual CPE, held Sept. 16-18 at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro hotel and conference center in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
"We were up by about 25 retailers and 15 vendors," Munce Group President Kirk Blank told Christian Retailing. "That's about a 10% increase this year from last year. ... Although stores voiced concerns about the economy and negativity related to the presidential election, the tone was more about what independents can do and will do to remain effective, relevant and profitable.
"Vendors and retailers were genuinely interested in working together in this difficult economy and were wholeheartedly engaged in business and ministry, while moving forward to serve the Lord," he added.
The show received an attendance boost from the Episcopal Booksellers Association (EBA), which moved its annual meeting to CPE Murfreesboro from its long-term home at the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE) to lower the cost of attendance, provide access to specialized training and offer buyers access to a broader variety of books and gifts. The Episcopalians had met at the venue of RBTE, the majority Roman Catholic trade show, since EBA's inception in 1997.
"It has been a draining year," said Martha Melling, owner of Community Christian Store in Summerville, S.C. "We needed the encouragement and information."
Suppliers also saw positive business. "CPE is always a home run for us," said Larry Avery, a sales representative for Zondervan. "We wrote more business here [at CPE] than any other convention."
Among the main speakers at the event was Max Lucado. Munce emphasizes order-writing at CPE by motivating retailers with a reimbursement program that helps to offset travel, food and hotel expenses, based on reaching order-writing goals. Marking its 20th anniversary in 2011, the marketing group has nearly 500 stores nationwide in its membership.
Read the full report in the November issue of Christian Retailing.