We talked with Alex Sills, who is an event coordinator for Lifeway, about what all goes into making an event store happen at one of our Lifeway Women events. Keep reading to learn more!
How long has Lifeway done event stores? How big is the team responsible for setting up an event store? What is your role?
We have a team of four people that work full-time on our event stores, but many more that help make it all happen. We usually send two or three people from our team to each event so that the others can rest up for the next one. Occasionally we have more than one event on the same weekend. When that happens, we get help from others at Lifeway who are willing to travel and serve with us for a few days.
My role as an event coordinator is to assist in the planning and preparation of the store for each event. This includes working with the coordinators from the women’s team on location details and logistics as well as working on the physical prep of getting our products and supplies ready to travel.
What do you do to prepare for each event, and how many events are you covering each year?
Our team works about twenty Lifeway Women events each year, and another fifteen or so Lifeway events and third-party trade shows.
Our preparation process starts months before each event. We work with the event coordinators on the women’s team to get important details about each location. How much space do we have for a store? What does that space look like? What kind of resources (tables, people, and so forth) does the venue have that are available to us?
After we have all the information we need, we start the physical prep work. A couple weeks before the event, we begin pulling supplies from our staging warehouse in Nashville and combine them with carts of books and other products that are prepared for us by a different team at the Lifeway distribution center. That is all loaded on trucks that are bound for the city that is hosting the event.
Tell us a little about the setup for event stores. What does an event store look like? How long do setup and teardown usually take?
Event setup varies a bit from location to location and depends on the type of event that we’re doing. Once we have a plan together at each venue, the set-up process begins with unloading the trucks and getting our supplies to the right place. Then we set up 15–20 tables and fill them with lots of books, Bibles, Bible studies, and apparel. When everything is in place, we take time to make it all look great for the people attending the event. This whole setup process typically takes five to seven hours for two or three people to finish.
The teardown process is much quicker. As soon as the event ends, everybody jumps into action, putting products back on carts, taking registers and displays down, and getting everything stacked on pallets and ready to load back into trucks for the return trip. It’s actually a pretty impressive system! We often have help from other teams on this part too, which helps speed things up. The teardown process typically takes an hour or two.
Do you have a memorable moment from working in the event store with your team, and/or a memorable conversation/interaction with a customer?
I think it’s more a collection of lots of little moments with customers that have been really cool. We get to hear about Bible studies that people are planning with their small groups and how those studies have helped them build a community. Or we hear specific examples of how our books have impacted someone’s life and, as a result, the lives of the people around them. It’s so encouraging to see some of the fruits of our labor through those stories.
We’re also incredibly grateful for the volunteers that help us make things happen on site. We get to spend lots of time hanging out with them and learning their stories. Our volunteers are so, so important, and through them, we learn so much about the local community and the impact that the event can have.
What is your team’s main hope for people who walk up to an event store?
We hope our customers get the exact resources they need so that they can leave the store feeling equipped and confident about what comes next in their ministry. Our job is to set the table for the Lord to do his thing, and I feel so grateful that we get to play this small part—a part we don’t deserve—in what He is doing through Lifeway and through our stores.
Find an event near you at lifeway.com/womensevents!
Alex Sills works as an event coordinator for national events and trade shows. He’s a native of Anniston, Alabama, and enjoys good books, standup comedy, and the Atlanta Braves. Occasionally he’ll watch too many consecutive episodes of The Office.