Christian Product Expo (CPE)’s winter show, taking place at the Kalahari Resort in the Poconos Mountains, Penn. from Jan. 27-29, is expected to attract close to 300 attendees—half of which are Christian retailers from around the country, according to its president Bob Munce. The event is the first since Munce launched the new Christian Retailers Association (CRA), which has become a popular option for booksellers due to changes at the Association for Christian Retail (known as CBA).
Donna Baker, owner of Dightman's Bible Book Center in Tacoma, Wash., is attending CPE for the training and networking that happens between store owners, she told PW. "We learn so much from each other’s stories and ideas. It is a great place to see and understand what is going on in this fast-changing industry."
"It’s an excellent time of worship, connecting with other retailers, [and] meeting with vendors," said Lorraine Valk, owner of Parable Christian Store in St. Joseph, Mich. "It’s important to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry, the new items being offered, to partake of show-only specials, and to be inspired."
Jack Savage, owner of Jack's Church Supply in Salisbury, Md. and past president of the board of CBA, said CPE is the only show left for Christian retailers. "The Munce Group [which hosts CPE] is like what the CBA used to be—a family," he said.
In addition to significant staff changes at the CBA, the organization has failed to pay a promised reimbursement to attendees of its 2018 trade show, UNITE, which took place last July. Several retailers spurned by CBA are joining the Christian Retail Association, and further, plan on being at CPE as well as its fall show, CPE International (CPEI), which is taking place in Murfreesboro, Tenn. from August 25-27 this year. Both events offer full reimbursements to qualifying attendees.
“We keep adding stores,” said Munce. “We will be giving our usual reimbursement for expenses.”
CPE and CPEI may potentially entice more attendees than CBA’s UNITE, which, according to the organization's website, is taking place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn., from June 25-28 this year. According to the sales and events staff at the resort, however, “nothing by that name is scheduled as of yet.” No additional details were available, and the CBA did not respond to PW's request for a comment.