Christian Retailing

Gift exhibitors pleased with buyers’ response at Unite 2016 Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 04:14 PM America/New_York

JohnMcKinney-SwansonGift vendors report mostly positive experience at Unite 2016, although some didn’t like the reduced time on the floor because of the lunchtime General Sessions.

John McKinney, president of Swanson Christian Products, said the show had been “busy.”

“We’ve had a lot of customers and we’re hoping that we wrote a lot of orders, so we’ll find that out when we get back home,” said McKinney, who also pointed out that “setup was a piece of cake.”

One of Swanson’s most popular products at the show was a line of fashion purses suitable for carry computer tablets but mainly designed for women who have conceal carry permits.

“In today’s environment of concealed carry usage among the general public, the addition of a significant selection of Christian themed concealed carry purses is intriguing to us as distributors,” McKinney said in an earlier press release. “Is this a product that our retailers, and more importantly their customers will embrace?  We believe it is.”

Carpentree was pleased with the interest buyers showed toward its new line.

“We’ve had a lot of new excitement over the Faith Collection line,” said Jordan Hobson, vice president of sales and marketing. “We just acquired that company at the end of September last year. We’ve got both Faith Collection and Carpentree under one roof in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We’ve purchased a new, 50,000-square-foot facility. We’ve got both companies shipping under one roof. We’ve had a lot of customers to our resin crosses and our new embellished canvases that Carpentree has released, so we’re looking forward to continuing that exposure and furthering the work that we’re doing in bringing people to Christ. It’s been a great show, and we’re looking forward to next year.”

Sue Ann Kloeck, national sales director for Abbey Press said the company had a “good show,” and she was “quite pleased with the business we’ve written.”

Abbey’s booth was the smallest the company has ever had, but for savings and the size of the show, Kloeck said it was “fairly significant business-wise” and “a good investment.”

Kloeck was among those who were disappointed when the floor was scheduled to close for the Monday and Tuesday General Sessions.

“We had a momentum going on both days, and we had to quit doing what we were doing and leave, so I don’t know that that was smart,” she said. “I did enjoy the content. I think it was a little too long. I think it could’ve been shortened. It was good content but too long, and it broke up our momentum for the day…. It was a little stressful for them to overlap appointments. If one ran late or came early, it was stressful for them.”

She thought, however, that CBA had “good intentions” with the General Sessions.

“They were trying to educate us and rally us to say, hey, we need to unite together,” Kloeck said. “We need to all understand where we are and where we’re going. I think the intentions were good. I wouldn’t recommend doing it next year. From an exhibitors’ standpoint, we want them on the floor. We want as much time as we can possibly get with everyone. We all bring less people, we have a smaller booth, so we need more time to write the business with the fewer resources we have.”

Kloeck also said Abbey Press saw a couple of new international buyers, though in general, international business for the company was “down tremendously.”

Steve Vandivier, president of Dicksons, has “been a relatively good show.”

Everything was “very smooth” in terms of setup for the show floor, Vandivier said.

In terms of location, he thought it was “easier for customers to drive here even more so than in St. Louis.”

From the vendor’s side, there are “reduced costs” compared to other venues and, he observed, “we’ve got the opportunity for more retailers to be here.”

Dicksons' new lines were “very well received here,” he added.

Pilleauxtalk co-owner Beth MacChesney brings a strong marketing and entrepreneurial background to the new company she and her business partner started.

She said she had “an out-of-body experience” at the show with how successful it’s been for her company even as a first-time exhibitor.

The success includes authors who want to enter into partnership and are looking to co-brand their books with pillow designs. International buyers from the Philippines, South Africa and other countries also were interested in the pillows the company offers.

“Our goal is to write really big checks  and give away a lot of money,” MacChesney said. “We want to be a Newman’s Own with pillows.”