As a precursor to the annual International Christian Retail show, The Parable Group hosted their annual franchise meeting in Atlanta, GA. The Parable Group President Steve Potratz and his team of retail experts created an interactive atmosphere of reflecting on God’s blessings over the past year, sharing ideas, asking questions and offering training. In addition, The Parable Group presented their annual franchise store awards.

In the category of Excellence in Customer Service, Parable identified winners in large and small store categories. “We zeroed in on stores who have consistently scored highest over the last nine months in customer service reports,” says Steve Adams, Parable director of franchise operations. The large store award was given to Mark Stofer at The Bookery Parable Christian Store in Mansfield, OH. “Mark has a large and beautiful store in a very troubled local economy, so providing remarkable customer service is not an option.” The small store award was given to Parable Christian Store in Arnold, MO, recognizing owners John and Christy Matlach and Charlie and Donna Matlach. John Strifler, Parable Franchise Coach says of the Matlach family, “They are serving their community as Christ would, honoring Him with their service.”

The Overall Excellence Awards take into consideration all areas of retailing – operations, management, flexibility, adaptation to the changing economy, goal setting, and achievement of those goals. Parable recognized The Potter’s House Parable Christian Store in Valdosta, GA; The Parable Christian Store in San Luis Obispo, CA; and Rainbow Shop, A Parable Christian Store in Bismarck, ND. The winner of the 2011 Excellence Award was presented to Gary Hoffman at Rainbow Parable Christian Store in Colonial Heights, VA. Strifler says, “Gary has continued to take the steps necessary to make Rainbow Parable a profitable, effective ministry/business.”

The Excellence in Sales Growth Award was given to Vickie and Mickey Ashby from The Gospel Shop, A Parable Christian Store in Salisbury, MD. “Sales growth has been an elusive thing in recent years, yet The Gospel Shop achieved 6% growth in 2010 and is holding a solid 4% increase this year-to-date. The Ashbys have led the store through many changes, including weathering the entrance of a large competitor into their market, and they have retained loyal customers through their service and selection,” says Adams.

In the final category of Excellence in Servant Leadership the award went to Parables in Omaha, NE. Store owners Bill and Dorothy Alford first opened the store in 1983 and have relocated and remodeled several times. Potratz says, “Throughout her career in Christian retail, Dorothy Alford has managed this store with quiet excellence. Her staff is well trained to perform the disciplined inventory management she has always maintained. With Bill’s careful oversight of their finances, they have consistently maintained a profitable operation in the face of many changes and challenges over the years.”

The Parable Group congratulates these stores on their excellence in Christian retail.