ICRS – The Christian One-Stop Buy


You may wonder why you’d find a post about a Christian retail show on Inspire a Fire. Don’t be alarmed. As writers and people who promote others who write, we find great inspiration in places and at events such as the International Christian Retail Show. Today, we hear all about it from Senior Editor Cindy Sproles of our sister site, ChristianDevotions.us.

The first time I heard ICRS I nodded, shoved my hands in my pockets and acted as though I had a clue. Honestly, it took me several tries to even get the letters right. IRSC. ISRC. CRIS. MESS.

I have to admit, at the time I was a new writer. It wasn’t long until a dear author friend informed me about the International Christian Retailers Show. The cloud lifted and clarity set in. The reality of the importance of this event came to light.

The International Christian Retailers Show is every avid reader’s dream. It only takes moments on the show floor to see the value. It’s a virtual “candyland” for Christian Retailers. Major publishing houses gather under one roof bringing many of their top authors to mingle and chat with retailers.

Of course, there’s a reason it’s Christian retailers and not Christian consumers. Here, in the thick of publishing and retail products, is where your local Bible bookstores and businesses come to sort through the aisles of authors, books and merchandise to decide what they’d love to offer their customers once they return home.

Authors are available for personal interviews and book signings. Publishing house executives open their arms and welcome the retailers, happy to share their upcoming projects.

As I walked the aisles of the ICRS floor, PR folks dropped book after book in my hand. “Take this. Read it. And by the way, there’s the author–stop by and meet them. Let them autograph your copy.” This was odd. A free book. A free Bible study with full DVD presentations. Refreshments with authors like Dr. Gary Chapman and artists like Jeremy Camp and Michael Card. Are you sure this was a free piece of cake, I wondered.

The point? An experience. ICRS is a true experience. For retailers it’s a smorgasbord spread wide. All they have to do is open their arms. Secondly, ICRS is a time where publishers and authors can say thank you to the retailers who faithfully purchase their merchandise for resale. Without the retailers, publishers would be hard pressed to produce books.

The opportunity presented at ICRS is valuable. It was wonderful to sit and chat with former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Frank Murphy and up and coming Christian artist, Julie Elias. To get the chance to see them as real, not as a celebrity, and to learn about their passions, their missions and their testimonies for Christ was nothing less than amazing.

In a world whose Christian worldview is becoming more and more skewed, ICRS provided more than a business perspective for publishers and retailers. It brought together, under one roof, like-minded Christians whose desire is to know Christ better and to be sure the world has a fighting chance at knowing Him too.

As I taped the last flap closed on my boxes of books to ship home, I wondered for a brief moment if there was any real value in this trip to ICRS. The answer is, yes. I’ve seen publishing from a new perspective and as much as I tire with the long process involved in writing, pitching, selling and publishing a book, I’ve seen the result it brings to those who are hungry for a fresh and wholesome bite of Christ.

So thank you to those publishers and merchandisers who work diligently to provide me, a consumer, quality materials. And to the retailers who lovingly handpick each item for their stores…here, here.

Now, I head home with a revived outlook on an industry that directly affects me and my family. My goal …to watch our church librarian fall over when she receives the bounty of my efforts at ICRS.

Cindy SprolesCindy Sproles is Editor and Co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and serves as Editorial Consultant for Inspire a Fire. She has contributed to Novel Journey, Novel Reviews, and contributes to the Times-News.net. She co-writes the He Said, She Said devotions with Eddie Jones, which are featured on Christian Devotions Ministries and in Common Ground Christian Newspaper. Cindy is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and has a BA in Business.

Pirate Preacher

The Pirate Preacher is the Communications Director at Christ' Church at Moore Square. On Monday nights he leads a "Jesus Study" in Moore Square. Each Sunday between 12:30 and 2:00 the Pirate Preacher and others, gather in the park to hand out food, water, and other items that add to the abundant life Jesus promised. He's also is an award-winning author of middle-grade, YA, and adult fiction and a writing coach and instructor.

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  1. Glad you got to experience it, Cindy. I love ICRS but didn’t go this year because of family commitments. Hope to get back in the next year or so.

  2. I loved running into Cindy at ICRS. I didn’t know what it was three years ago. But two years ago I was asked to attend for ACFW. My eyes and heart flew wide open and I embraced the event. I had the lovely opportunity to go this summer again. I relished my time there and participated in several speaking, signing, and group activities to help store owners, librarians, and buyers learn more about Christian authors and what we write. I hope to attend for years to come.

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