Christian Retailing

Church bookstores receive tailored training Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Sunday, 25 August 2019 11:42 PM America/New_York

Church bookstores have special needs, and no one knows that better than the presenters and facilitators of their Sunday afternoon training session at CPE International. Kelly Graham Flores and Deb Graham have run the store locations at Prestonwood, a megachurch based in Plano, Texas. Rachel Savage of Watermark Christian Store in Melbourne, Florida, and Susan Chipman of Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana, facilitated the session.

Flores called on church bookstores to make use of publishers’ return policies to eliminate stock that is not selling.

“If you’re not returning books, you can get into big trouble,” she said, recommending using a spreadsheet or notebook to keep track of vendors’ return policies.

Authors encourage, entertain Christian retailers at CPE Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Sunday, 25 August 2019 11:04 PM America/New_York

Retailers attending CPE International were treated to two very different types of speakers, from a teaching pastor to a Hollywood comedian, Sunday night.

Robert J. Morgan revealed his mastery of God’s Word as he took CPE attendees on a tour of the Scriptures from the start of creation to the end of time. The author of Always Near and the upcoming 100 Bible Verses That Made America (both Thomas Nelson), as well as many other books, spoke at the dinner event sponsored by HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

Retailers to drive traffic through social media, marketing Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Sunday, 25 August 2019 06:34 PM America/New_York

Rosalinda RiveraChristian retailers attending the CPE International in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, sat in on presentations on topics ranging from search engine optimization to inventory management.

Chris Rainey encouraged attendees not to be overwhelmed by social media but to take advantage of the big two, Facebook and Instagram, in raising awareness of their store. He offered four steps--plan, learn, engage and analyze--for stores to make full use of instead of ignoring social media in their priorities list. Google searches drive people to stores and help build traffic through Google My Business, Google Maps and more, so, Rainey said, retailers must have optimize their use of the search engine.

LifeWay to focus on digital retail, close all stores Print Email
Written by Carol Pipes   
Wednesday, 20 March 2019 02:53 PM America/New_York

LifeWayBuilding webLifeWay Christian Resources is charting a new course in 2019 marking a strategic shift of resources to a dynamic digital strategy. As part of the transition, LifeWay will close its 170 brick-and-mortar stores in 2019.

The organization will continue to offer a broad selection of resources through and the LifeWay Customer Service Center (800-458-2772). LifeWay Customer Service hours are Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (Central). LifeWay will also continue to serve customers through its network of church partners who work directly with churches.

Munce announces new trade association, upgrades CPE Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 23 October 2018 05:10 PM America/New_York

Christian Retail AssociationMunce Group announced today the formation of the Christian Retail Association Inc. (CRA) to its nearly 225 member stores. The group's president, Bob Munce, founded CRA as a nonprofit ministry to better serve independent Christian retailers.

Munce Group also will restructure one of its regional trade shows, Christian Product Expo (CPE), into a national and international show called CPE International. The first CPE International will be held Sunday to Tuesday, Aug. 25-27, 2019, at Embassy Suites Nashville SE Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The show floor will be open Aug. 26-27.

“Baker Publishing Group would like to encourage our international retailers and international publishing friends to attend CPE International in 2019,” said David Lewis, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Baker Publishing Group. “Since the sale of the CBA show [UNITE] to an independent party, many people have been disappointed with the communication and responsiveness of the new owners. We believe the CPE show can add stability plus a reliable time and place for the Christian publishing industry to meet. We hope all of our international partners will consider putting this show on their calendars for 2019.”

HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP) also supports the new version of the CPE show.

“HarperCollins Christian Publishing has been a supporter of Munce Marketing Group’s Christian Product Expo since its inception,” said Tom Knight, HCCP's senior vice president of sales. “As a trade show focused on the Christian products industry, CPE knows what it takes to drive success. HCCP is proud to be a supporter of CPE and will continue to support its efforts as the show grows and serves the international market.”

In a letter to vendors, Munce explained how the new association and upgraded show came to be. He said during the latest CPE, some top executives and company owners from the publishing, gift, music, services and distributor side of the industry asked him what he would need to take on this new responsibility and volunteered their support. 

Along with CPE International, the regional CPE will continue in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains in January ( Both shows will offer retailer reimbursement and have a strong spiritual emphasis as they have in the past.

Key CBA leaders leave Association for Christian Retail Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Friday, 07 September 2018 02:22 PM America/New_York

CurtisRiskey OfficialWebTwo key leaders at CBA, The Association for Christian Retail, have left the organization.

The association’s president, Curtis Riskey, is no longer working at CBA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. CBA has not yet announced a replacement to lead the organization nor stated the reason for Riskey’s departure. He had been with the association for 11 years, first as strategic solutions executive starting in 2007, advancing to the role of president in 2009.

CBA plans to ‘interrupt’ industry for the cause of Christ Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 12 July 2018 05:26 PM America/New_York

ShowFloor Unite2018 croppedCBA, the Association for Christian Retail, moved its annual convention to Nashville this year. The location, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, along with significant funds given to CBA member retailers to pay for show expenses were factors that drew Christian retailers to the Unite convention.

CBA reported that more than 1,700 people, a 10 percent increase over last year, attended the July 8-11 trade show. Representatives from 35 countries also attended.

Although the gift section of the exhibit floor appeared to be full, some gift companies either did not attend Unite or went from one show to the next as Unite and the Atlanta gift show at AmericasMart overlapped. 

“For the most part, we sold out our booth space,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said.

CBA is also in the very early stages of establishing strategic alliances and is challenging retailers and suppliers to look at the industry in a fresh way.

“Many great things are birthed in times of great fire, turmoil and crisis,” said Eddie Roush, the new chairman of CBA Service Corp., who has invested $1 million in CBA, including retailer show reimbursement. “Many Christian retailers are suffering because they have not yet adopted new ways of marketing their businesses, and at CBA’s Unite 2018, we have provided them new tools, insight and inspiration in order to thrive.”

Roush is also president of The Roush Foundation, which helped to organize and underwrite Unite 2018.

“We feel we need to rebrand Christianity,” he added. “We have taken the holy name of Jesus and diluted it, where people have lost hope in His power to give hope and new ideas to our business owners who are struggling. We have come to interrupt our industry for the good of furthering the cause of Christ.”

Most of the training at the show was offered free of charge for retailers, who took advantage of the opportunity to learn from inside and outside experts on retail topics.

“We had so many people not only sign up for education workshops but also attending,” Riskey said. “A lot of years we would measure somewhere between 20 and 40 on average who would be attending a session. This year there are many that averaged well over 100.”

Riskey was encouraged by the increase.

“We’re talking a lot about change,” he said. “There’s change needed, because obviously you can’t expect to do the same things and expect different results. But when I see those folks taking workshop sessions and things like that, people are starting to realize they do need help and are seeking it. Hopefully they found a lot of really good things here.”

CBA brings Unite back to the same location next year, June 25-28.

'90 Minutes in Heaven' author Don Piper continues his heavenly story Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 08:12 PM America/New_York

DonPiperDon Piper, a New York Times best-selling author and the subject of the 90 Minutes in Heaven movie, said he came to know Christ as Savior at age 16 through the influence of friends and relatives. Those were the people he says he met at the gates of heaven when he died in a car crash at age 38 and spent 13 months in the hospital.

In his new book, People I Met at the Gates of Heaven, Piper, who is also an ordained minister, told of those who expected and met him at heaven’s gates. His college roommate’s mother met him there, as did one of his classmates who was killed, his great-grandparents, his grandmother and a teacher.

People I Met at the Gates of Heaven also shows how believers can and should influence others on earth for heaven's purposes, just as those who helped lead Piper to Christ influenced him.

As for whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, which the Scripture speaks about, “only God knows” Piper said.

“We think we know who’s going and who’s not, and we do not,” he said.

FaithWords releases his new book in November.