Making an impression Print
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 30 June 2011 11:35 AM America/New_York

Atlanta show to emphasize stores’ influence on culture

CBA-CelebrateLogoCentered on the theme “Celebrate the Word, Impact the Culture,” the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) marks its 62nd year July 11-13 at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center.

This year’s focus, in part, celebrates the impact of the King James Bible, in its 400th year of publication. Open to the public for viewing, the Celebrate the Word Bible Legacy exhibit of historic Bibles and biblical artifacts “will help reinforce Christian-stores’ role in bringing the Bible to people today, and the significant role they play within our culture and communities across the country,” said Curtis Riskey, executive director of show-host CBA.

Departing from the norm, CBA is inviting the public to attend some of the Sunday events. “The goal is to show that Christian stores are a vital part of the local community and are partners in ministry,” Riskey said. “We will invite church leaders, area ministries and the general public to a Sunday service, called Worship Him.”

In partnership with a leading Christian foundation, an awards event following the service will celebrate leaders from business, sports, entertainment and other professions “not for their professional accomplishments, but for their work in Christian service and outreach,” said Riskey. The event is a fundraiser designed to raise money for ministry and service.

In the middle of the exhibit floor, CBA’s Town Center will be a bit different this year. “As the store becomes a community-gathering place for people of like mind and passion, what happens in the retail environment also must adapt,” Riskey said. “For Christian stores, supporting their customers’ ministry outreach and addressing ministry or social issues through resources, education, knowledge and engagement will become more crucial. The Town Center area aims to demonstrate ways to engage local communities in this way and provide compelling store environments.” 

Other areas of the Town Center include the Retail Innovation Area with technology and customer-connecting strategies; the hands-on Ministry in Action outreach to help young people at risk in the Atlanta area; the New Voice Café featuring new artist and author voices; and the Cyber Café. 

In addition, there will be free coffee stations sponsored by WinePress Publishing; the Christian Store Week area to help stores prepare for this fall’s weeklong event; Personality Booth; CBA Benefits and Services; and Retail Ideas to Shape the Future. Merchandising areas will include the Thoughtful Books exhibit, “a cooperative publisher effort that will show how specialized high-margin titles can attract thinking people and spiritual leaders to your store,” Riskey noted.Barbour-Publishing-booth-2

On the whole, exhibitors are “experimenting” a bit, Riskey said, aiming to connect with retailers “beyond the traditional ‘trade-show’ model with more networking, meeting and cooperative planning.”


Though the show doesn’t officially start until Monday, there are several events to take advantage of Sunday. As a first stop, the registration desk is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at Hall B, rooms 308-309.

For retailers at all skill levels, Retail Academy with national retail trainer Bob Negen of WhizBang! Training runs 8 a.m.-2 p.m., with an additional registration fee of $50 required. Retailers will take an intensive look at business strategies and practices at this training session.

International guests are welcome to attend the International Vision Celebration & Luncheon, an annual special event that not only allows for networking and fellowship among visitors from outside the U.S., but also includes lunch, an update on international happenings and news on the state of Christian retail across the globe. 

Musical artists Eric & Krissy Nordhoff (Go Global Entertainment), whose music is distributed in more than 15 countries, will lead guests in a time of worship. A keynote address will encourage guests in their quest to spread the Word of God, and a panel of international colleagues will dialogue on the unique challenges and opportunities of Christian retail around the world.

At the first General Session, 3-4:30 p.m. at Sydney Marcus Auditorium, participants will learn about changes in today’s culture and the impact on the church and Christian retail from researcher and author George Barna, who will talk from the themes of his latest book, Futurecast (BarnaBooks/Tyndale House Publishers). Barna will also will lead a panel discussion with industry leaders Chuck Wallington, owner of Christian Supply in Spartanburg, S.C.; Jason Green, president of Mardel; Craig Cable, national director of Life Tree Café; and Peter Dunn, owner of gift company P. Graham Dunn. The topic will be on how the store can engage customers and become a bridge between Christ and culture.

Following the General Session and the Focus on Fiction Reception and before the 6-7:30 p.m. Worship Service, several food service options will be available in the Convention Center, and attendees are encouraged to make this meal a Fellowship Dinner. 

The Worship Him service will focus not only on industry unity and spiritual refreshment, but also on giving as an industry to children in crisis at Eagle Ranch children’s home in Atlanta. Randy Frazee will address the industry with a message from The Story (Zondervan). North Point Live (EMI CMG) will perform along with special guest Nicole C. Mullen (EMI CMG).

The First Annual Champions of the Faith Awards and Benefit Concert, at 8 p.m. in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom, will be presented by The Premier Foundation in partnership with CBA. The awards will honor businesses, organizations, entertainers and individuals who are champions of the Christian faith by living their lives dedicated to the principles Jesus taught. 

Two of this year’s winners include Eddie Carswell, founder of Newsong and Winter Jam, the world’s largest Christian concert tour, as well as Trevor Bayne, winner of the 2011 Daytona 500. One award will be given to a retailer and one to a supplier who are impacting their community for Christ. The evening will also feature a music performance by one of the industry’s top artists.


Registration is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m., and the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Devotion will be held at 8 a.m. at the entrance to Exhibit Halls B3-B4. The exhibit floor is open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. with a soft close until 6 p.m.

Workshops go full throttle, starting at 10 a.m., and leading up to the Heart of the Author Luncheon, a 90-minute event that begins at 11:30 a.m. and is hosted this year by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing Group). An additional registration fee is required for the popular luncheon that affords attendees the opportunity to meet authors face to face and hear the stories behind their latest books. Participants will be introduced to authors including Tricia Goyer (B&H Publishing Group); and Nan Corbitt Allen, Randy Butler, Heidi McLaughlin and Gerald Mittman (all from Deep River Books).

Afternoon workshops run 1:30-2:30 p.m., and the annual Children’s Product Trends session with children’s expert Mary Manz Simon is held 3-4:30 p.m., with additional registration required. It showcases the latest trends and merchandising ideas in children’s product for retail owners and managers, buyers and frontliners. Physical product will be featured by sponsoring suppliers, and attendees will be given a sample of each featured product.

The hourlong Industry Prayer Meeting, led by representatives from Evergreen Press, will take place at 5:30 p.m., and everyone is welcome to gather for a time of worship and prayer at the CBA Town Center on the exhibit floor.


Registration is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the floor is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the soft close in effect until 6 p.m. Workshops will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Similar to Monday’s luncheon with authors, Tuesday will see the Heart of the Artist Luncheon, with additional registration required. Running 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., the event allows participants to learn more about the story behind the songs as each artist shares about the passion behind their music and offers a brief performance. The luncheon will feature Peter Furler, Brittany Hargest, Christy Nockels and Ginny Owens, all  of whose music is distributed by EMI CMG.

Stores will want to take advantage of Retailer Idea Exchange Reception, 3-4:30 p.m. Additional registration is required for the reception that brings together retailers from church stores to independents, chains to franchises, for the dual purposes of idea-sharing and collaboration. 


The show concludes Wednesday, but registration is still open the final day from 7:30 a.m. to noon. The exhibit floor is open 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with no soft close.

Attendees can start the day with the CBA Member Breakfast at 7 a.m. The 90-minute event, which requires additional registration, highlights some of the resources available to CBA members, the upcoming CBA Channel Exclusives and the winners of the CBA Spirit of Excellence Awards. Kyle Idleman, pastor and author of Not a Fan (Zondervan), will deliver the message, while Shannon Wexelberg (Discovery House Music) will lead a time of worship. 

There are also four workshops with sessions at 8:30 a.m. and at 10 a.m., wrapping up by 11 a.m.