Christian Retailing

New format helps boost attendance for ‘wonderfully inspirational’ CPE Hershey show Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Thursday, 13 February 2014 08:29 AM America/New_York

HarrisIIIMunce Group’s CPE tradeshow in Hershey, Pa., saw attendance grow considerably from last year’s levels, owing at least partially to a streamlined schedule. More than 200 attendees, including nearly 160 retailers, gathered Jan. 19-21 at the Hershey Lodge for a time of fellowship, training and business.

With the training sessions moved to Jan. 19, a Sunday, a greater number of retailers were able to attend the prospective retailer training with Robbie Halstead of Kingdom Retail Solutions, as well as Bookstore Manager, Vacation Bible School curriculum and Bible sessions.

The show floor opened Monday with an earlier start time of 10 a.m. and closed at 6 p.m. The doors reopened for 3 1/2  hours Tuesday. The updated hours allowed the same amount of buying time as last year’s show, but in a more profitable way with less time out of the store and office for retailers and suppliers.

Eddie Nostrand, sales director of Spirit & Truth Christian Jewelry Designs, found the show productive for his company.

“CPE Hershey was, as always, a blessing to participate in,” Nostrand said. “We as a company were excited to write many orders with both existing and current clients. We look forward to our next CPE show; the Munce crew is the best of the best at what they do, namely connecting stores and vendors together for long-lasting relationships!”

Workshops were held Monday, with the first including sessions on reaching homeschoolers; planning inventory; and stewardship (presented by Candace Tucker of CLC Bookcenter in Philadelphia). The second workshop focused on increasing in-store promotion sales, with sessions on Above the Treeline software tools and in-store and online promotions from Innovative that coordinate with Munce catalogs.

At the Monday evening banquet, Doug Anderson (Provident), solo artist and member of Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, shared stories and songs. Anderson’s “Drive to Retail” campaign was well-received by the stores, and retailers across the country benefitted by selling out of the premium autographed CD. Strong social media support and Anderson’s guest blogs on MTL magazine’s site gained a record number of “shares, likes, tweets, pins and posts,” said Kirk Blank, president of Munce Group and MTL Media. 

Blank commended Anderson and those behind the campaign.

“Hats off to StowTown records, Carol Roundtree, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Provident Distribution and Doug Anderson for really putting the focus on independent Christian retailers,” he said. “Too often, this critical segment of retail goes overlooked. This promotion proved that the independent Christian stores associated with the Munce Group are willing and able to sell a large volume of products.”

In addition, best-selling author Davis Bunn (River North/Moody Publishers) explained his commitment to crafting a worthy story, while Jud Wilhite (FaithWords) commended Christian retailers for the work they do and shared how his faith grew because of the products found in an independent Christian store in Amarillo, Texas. A number of other authors, including Mindy Starns Clark and Dani Pettrey, visited with retailers at the Personality Party.

Retailers were full of praise for the three-day Hershey show. 

“CPE is a wonderfully inspirational ‘family reunion,’ learning from one another,” said Mary Margaret Bittle, owner of Morning Star: A Perfect Gift in Waynesboro, Pa. “[Retailers] can’t survive without the valuable information and update on what’s going on in the industry.”

Kathryn Stricklin from The LORD’s Store in Triadelphia, W.Va., also saw the value in attending CPE.

“My goals and concerns for 2014 were settled here at the show,” Stricklin said. “I’m going home with peace and satisfaction.”

Craig Hall from Davis College Christian Bookstore in Johnson City, N.Y., said he is “always encouraged to continue in the ministry after attending the show.” 

Other events included Night of Worship with Paul E. Miller (Crossway), who spoke on the impact that changes in culture, church communities and the nation have made to retail, and the demonstration of Harris III (Destiny Image), who presented a clear gospel message through illusions.

At Monday’s breakfast, Natalie Nikula of Compassion International introduced a new partnership with Munce Group stores, while Satish Kumar shared his testimony of growing up as a sponsored child. Deb and Mike Woodard of Bethany Book & Gift in Baxter, Minn., encouraged fellow retailers with the success of their recent partnership with the relief organization.

To conclude each evening, CPE attendees were the first in the nation to screen the upcoming theatrical releases Heaven Is for Real and Moms’ Night Out (both Provident Films/Provident Distribution).

Later this year, Munce plans to host the one-day CPE at AmericasMart Atlanta on July 9 and will return for three days to Murfreesboro, Tenn., Sept. 21-23.