CPE Winter 2021 brings renewed life to the industry
LARGO, Fla.—After a challenging year, Christian Product Expo (CPE) Winter 2021 was a much-needed time of refreshing. CPE Winter 2021 was held February 14-16 at the Embassy Suites and Concord Convention Center in Charlotte, NC, making it the first time the winter regional show has been held in the southeast.
Even with attendees wearing masks, it was evident they were excited to be there and happy to see the Christian retail industry alive. There was a total of 236 attendees, including 58 vendors and 40 retail stores. An additional 44 stores were registered for the show; however, they were unable to attend due to extenuating circumstances. In fact, CPE Winter 2021 was set to be the largest winter show to date.
“I loved the energy of the show,” said Sara Skerl, sales manager for Christian Art Gifts. “It was so amazing to have so many Christians and Christian goods all together, doing business and sharing wins and successes from 2020.”
The show officially kicked off on Valentine’s Day with corporate praise and worship and a devotional from the show’s master of ceremonies, comedian Tim Lovelace. Tim encouraged attendees with Scripture and a personal story of God’s protection in tough times.
On Sunday afternoon, retailers enjoyed a buffet lunch hosted by Samaritan’s Purse and heard from Operation Christmas Child shoebox recipient Yuliya Shubina as well as from Rebecca Poisson, manager of corporate and ministry partnerships for Samaritan’s Purse; Sue Brewer, Munce Group COO; and retailer Vicki Geist of Cedar Springs Christian Store in Knoxville, TN.
Following lunch, retailers received a free, in-person training, valued at $2,000, to help them better manage their business. The training was led by David and Jason Benham, twin brothers, bestselling authors and nationally acclaimed entrepreneurs who had a reality show on HGTV, which was abruptly cancelled because of their commitment to biblical values.
“I enjoy attending CPE and the effort they put forth to bring the Christian book/product community together,” said Robert Flores of Chapel Creek Book & Coffee in Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, CA. “The show allows you the opportunity to share ideas with like-minded people, learn new practices and keep your focus on our purpose to glory and make Christ known.”
Sunday evening concluded with contemporary Southern Gospel songs from siblings Parker and Hannah Webb, who started the group Guilford, and a compelling testimony from Billy Graham’s pastor, Dr. Don Wilton, compliments of CPE’s platinum sponsor HarperCollins Christian Publishing.
For the Monday evening showcase, attendees heard from the talented Hayes Family and Jason Brown (Penguin Random House), the highest-paid center in the NFL. Jason shared how he followed God’s call to leave the NFL and buy a thousand-acre farm in Louisburg, NC, only to give away all his crops to those in need.
Retailers also enjoyed a time of spiritual refreshment with morning devotionals from Moody Publisher’s author Hannah Anderson and even a few live experiments with Dr. Fizzlebop, otherwise known as author Brock Eastman (Tyndale House Publishers), that involved crowd participation.
“This event is so God-blessed. The time with vendors and other retailers is so valuable. The speakers and worship are so uplifting,” said Joyce Barbatti of TJ’s Christian Bookstore in Cedar Falls, IA.
The show floor opened Monday morning to the sound of carols playing, getting retailers into the spirit of shopping for Christmas. Part of this year’s winter show featured a Christmas corner where retailers could browse various seasonal gift displays. There were over 900 orders written at this show, an average of 29 orders written per store.
“It is always a blessing to see everyone and be around other believers,” said Les Jones of Genesis Marketing. “The added benefit of strong sales like we saw at CPE is an extra blessing.”
On Tuesday, the show floor closed at 2:00 PM with four cash prize drawings. The grand prize winner received $1000. Throughout the show, CPE gave attendees over $2000 in cash prizes.
“I love attending CPE. Not only does it give me opportunity to meet face-to-face with vendors, but it also encourages me as I talk with other retailers,” said Dale and Marie Underwood of Holcomb’s Office Supply & Christian Products in Cornelia, GA.
Retailers and exhibitors have already signed up for the Fall 2021 show, which will be on August 15-17 at the Embassy Suites and St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, MO. To learn more about CPE, visit cpeshow.com.
The Munce Group was founded in October 1991 and currently serves nearly 200 member retailers across the US. The mission of the Munce Group is to provide member retailers with the highest quality Christian materials and services to equip independent Christian retailers for the work of their ministry and business. Munce Group also hosts Christian Product Expo (CPE). CPE is the only industry trade show that is free to attend and provides a generous reimbursement program. Visit www.cpeshow.com