Christian Retailing

Christian suppliers see overseas ‘growth’ opportunities Print Email
Written by Staff   
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 04:19 PM America/New_York

International shoppers at second annual Marketsquare event looking for books, Bibles, gifts

With American bookstores feeling the pinch of an economic downtown, Christian suppliers are finding windows of opportunity in developing countries that are reporting retail growth.

Recently released statistics compiled from surveys conducted at the Christian Trade Association International’s (CTAI) second annual Marketsquare International document a growth trend in certain markets, including Nigeria and South Africa.

Of the 74 international buyers attending the show, 24% reported growth and 37% reported strong growth.

powell“We look around America and see what’s happening and assume what’s happening here is happening around the world and to a certain extent, it’s true,” Jim Powell, president of CTAI, told Christian Retailing. “I think there are places in Africa, Asia, Latin America (that) are seeing reasonable sales growth despite what we’re experiencing in the United States.”

When asked for their product interests, (90%) of Marketsquare attendees said they were interested in purchasing books, followed by Bibles (81%), gifts (52%) with music, cards and apparel at 29% each and 29% planning to negotiate translation rights. Companies that participated in Marketsquare—held Jan. 14-17 in Atlanta—included Dicksons, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Harvest House Publishers, Brownlow Gifts, DaySpring Cards and Strang Communications.

Powell said he was “very pleased” with the turnout. A “different kind of buyer” is present at Marketsquare, he pointed out, explaining that a buyer he knows routinely ships a 40-foot container of product from the U.S. and many overseas retailers buy in bulk from the exhibitors.

On the floor, some exhibitors reported traffic as “slow” during various parts of the event, but several were more enthusiastic about their sales.

“It was really busy in the booth,” said Michele Maguire, national account manager at Standard Publishing, a first-time exhibitor. “We made good contacts, written some orders.”

Most of the buyers at Marketsquare (95%) said they attend CBA’s annual International Christian Retail Show in July, but they still felt it was important to attend a winter show as well.

Although visa problems last year allowed for only a couple of attendees from Nigeria, this year the country had the largest constituency. Edith Anyiwo, president of Joshua’s Bookmart in Puyallup, Nigeria, said she enjoyed Marketsquare because it saved money and energy.

“Most of my suppliers are here and it’s not as big as the usual book convention,” she said. “It’s easier for me to walk around, and it’s cost-effective.”

Powell said tentative plans were being made for Marketsquare International 2010, and he anticipated returning to Atlanta, which he said is a “perfect international hub.”