Christian Retailing

CPE International ‘feels like a replacement for CBA’ Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Monday, 26 August 2019 06:25 PM America/New_York

ShowFloor CPE International webChristian Retailing spoke with a variety of exhibitors on the CPE floor, which was abuzz with activity Monday, Aug. 26, the first day it was open for business.

Carlton Garborg, president at BroadStreet Publishing, says it’s been “very busy” at CPE with a lot of buyers and activity.

“Overall, it’s just good to see something that feels like a replacement for CBA, so it didn’t go away,” Garborg said. “I hope that next year will be even bigger and stronger.”

Ben Thocher, senior director of sales at Crossway, said he feels “very encouraged” by what’s happening at the CPE show. 

“It’s refreshing to be interacting directly with stores and hearing good reports from them,” Thocher said.

Rob McKenzie, sales representative for trade, academic and special markets at IVP, has attended the show for four years.

“Spirits are great,” McKenzie said. “This is the most traffic I’ve seen at CPE since I’ve been coming.”

Annette Hughes is the new national sales director at 1517 Media and is enjoying being at the show to share the trade focus of many of its products, including kids books under the Beaming Books imprint.

“Children’s books in general are a really strong area for the Christian bookstore. They make great gifts, but also people are very family-oriented, so it’s exciting. We’ve had some real successes,” including The Memory Box, a book about grief that has sold over 40,000 copies in two years.

“The show’s been great,” Hughes said. “Everybody is coming by. They don’t know us; they’re learning.”

Top Notch Teacher Products in Kerrville, Texas, is a teacher supply company that’s new to the CPE show, though some of the company’s products have been in Mardel stores for years.

Charles Johnson is a “hands-on” business manager of Top Notch, a family business that makes virtually all of its products in the U.S.

“We’re moving into faith-based products, going toward homeschool, Sunday schools, parochial schools, small Christian schools, school co-ops,” Johnson said, noting that these new teaching products have scripture on them. They include write-on, wipe-off activity maps and Christmas products.

The Voice of the Martyrs is another first-time exhibitor. Chris Robinette is executive director of VOM Books.

“We know that Christian retailers are points of light and we want to come alongside of them to help be their arms and their feet to help them get the word out, so we’re just here to support them in whatever effort that they have,” Robinette said. “We know it’s tough on the frontlines, and we’re just ambassadors to be supporting them in their efforts.”

On the gift side of the industry, Mark Griffith, vice president of sales at DaySpring, said his company comes every year to CPE and was featuring a boutique-type of apparel and jewelry as new products for the show.

“The traffic’s been really good today,” said Griffith, who also appreciates the events Munce Group is hosting.

John McKinney, president of Swanson Christian Products, is a regular exhibitor at CPE and also is pleased with this year’s floor traffic.

“The show’s really good,” he said. “We’re really impressed with the turnout.”

Danny Tager is an independent sales rep for Singer who does all the jewelry manufacturing for the company when he’s not on the road. 

“The Catholic end of our business is holding its own, but the truth of the matter is we’re doing a lot more Christian stuff,” Tager said. “This show is a great place to pick up new business but to network with everyone in the industry.”