With the launch of the first Christian Retail Only (CROnly) product in October, the strategic alliance between Content Road Media Corporation (CRMC) and CBA is well on its way toward making a difference in Christian retail business and ministry.

Andy Butcher

Since the unveiling of the CROnly initiative at CBA’s UNITE 2016 event in June, Kevin McAfee, founder of CRMC, and partner Eddie Roush have visited stores in 13 states, where they were well received. “Many of these stores feel forgotten,” says McAfee. “We found an industry that has been lacking encouragement, and it burdened us. They need encouragement.”

One indicator of support for the member-only program is the increase in interest in CBA store membership noted at the Munce Group’s Christian Products Expo in September. Several retailers saw CROnly as “the rallying cry for Christian retail” and are joining CBA to be part of it, says CBA President Curtis Riskey.

CBA is offering free membership to qualifying stores through the end of 2016 so every Christian store can participate. “We want them to have an opportunity to be part of CROnly as an added value of being part of CBA,” Riskey adds.

Among those grateful for the CROnly initiative is CBA board member and owner of The Greatest Gift and Scripture Supply (Pueblo, Colorado), Heather Adams. “The margin on these items is going to be terrific and the retail on them is, too, which will move the product almost effortlessly. So when we take a little bit of time to put some effort into them, I can only imagine what is going to happen.”

More products coming

The October CROnly We Will Stand CD, DVD, and book premiums will be followed by a steady flow of music, movies, books, and other products that will be Christian retail exclusives or first-run releases for a season before becoming available elsewhere.

Content Road is meeting with dozens of content creating organizations to bring a group of products to the marketplace for the next seven years in this new alliance with CBA.

Kevin McAfee

Though retailers are eager to know details of what’s next, the speed at which this initiative has been launched means agreements are still being finalized.

CBA Board Chairman Sue Smith, general manager at Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, Michigan), is enthusiastic, but she also offers a word of caution. “My hope is that we can understand that this initiative is indeed the beginning of amazing potential, but it is in no way an overnight fix,” she says.

“Patience will need to show up in abundance as we slowly move ahead,” she adds. “Turning a ship is never fast, but slow steady movements will bring change. Purchasing high and selling through at the register will prove to content creators that this can work for us all.”