Afternoon breakout sessions at the International Christian Retail Show showed retailers how to fight Amazon and how to build their store staff.
"Stand Against Amazon: Empty Storefronts: The Fiscal and Land Use Impacts of Online Retail" was led by Matt Cunningham of Civic Economics and Eric Grimm, director of communications for CBA.
"The bottom line is that independent bookstores are good for the local economy," Cunningham said.
Cunningham offered statistics about Amazon's growth in online sales and distribution footprint, saying that Amazon's distribution sites can range from millions of square feet to just a storefront. One of the most telling stats was that of Amazon's $48 billion in sales in 2014, $45 billion "would likely have occurred in retail sales." Around 11.5 percent of Amazon's sales are in books.
One key for Christian retailers is to build community.
"Independent retail has played a vital role in bringing a community together," Grimm said. "There are things stores can do what nothing else can when it comes to building community."
The second workshop, "Discover the Secret Sauce to Chick-fil-A's Compelling Culture," was led by Dee Ann Turner, a 30-year veteran of the chicken chain, vice president and author of It's My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture.
Turner spoke of building a team by selecting, sustaining and stewarding employees.
"Craft a profile of what you're looking for, looking at what you need now and what you'll need later," Turner said.
She encouraged retailers to advocate for their employees, as well as allow them to make mistakes. Turner also suggested that employers "steward their seasoned leaders" to take advantage of their wisdom, insights and ideas.
"It's important to leverage all that talent, both emerging talent and long-term talent," Turner said.