Curtis Riskey, President, CBA

“That’s a great question,” I thought as the reporter waited for my answer. She was on deadline for her publication and we had already covered a range of subjects relating to UNITE 2018, including discussing in detail the offer to member retailers to cover their hotel and food expenses. Even a yearly interview about convention takes on a whole new energy when the discussion includes details of a one million dollar gift being offered to member retailers. After 20 minutes of questions asked and answered, we’d covered most of the key points, until the reporter explained she had one more question. With member retailers being reimbursed up to $1,000 for their convention hotel and food expenses* (which should more than cover the cost of those items), just how significant did I believe the changes in the Christian retail industry would be?

Before I could elaborate on my response of “Very!” the reporter pointed out that nothing like this has ever happened in the industry and, beyond a great attendance for UNITE, had I thought about how it would impact Christian retail?

How much emphasis could I put on my answer, knowing this is an all-caps, bold letters with an explanation point kind of declaration? I explained that strategic partners who were willing to make an investment this significant in the industry is the “line in the sand moment” that help—real help—is happening.

“Is happening” … let that sink in. Even as I said it, I mentally ran through a few of the tough conversations I’ve had with storeowners through the years. Heart-wrenching talks with friends who were going out of business, and all the owners who are struggling to pay bills this month. But now, there’s help.

We’re not talking about one-off classes, advertiser-driven “data,” or rehashing ideas that haven’t helped in a significant way.

This moment, UNITE 2018, is the demarcation for the faith-based industry. This is the time all of us will remember as the turning point for retailers—when member retailers got thousands of dollars of customized data for free, showing them who the customer is, what they want to purchase, even what social media platform they’re spending their time on. This is the data they really need, that uses complicated algorithms from one of the nation’s leading data companies.

This is the time when member retailers will receive marketing materials they’ve never been able to afford: highly-produced customized videos for store websites and social media platforms; not product photos, but creative message-driven videos. CBA member retailers will receive thousands of dollars of tools for free for attending UNITE 2018. Why? Because the change our industry needs is happening.

I’m beyond grateful to The Roush Foundation and its chairman Edward Roush, and Patrick Kucera, the Entrepreneurial Evangelist and author of the soon-to-be-released book Revival of Revenue, for making the money available for member retailers to attend UNITE 2018. And I’m thankful to The Roush Foundation and their strategic partners for providing member retailers with state-of-the-art data and marketing tools.

To each of you who has made it this far and who is now boldly taking next steps into a much more promising future, you are now truly stepping into a future that’s worthy of our calling.

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*Conditions apply.