Council for Retail and Sales launched at Penn State Lehigh Valley

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The retailing and sales industries have experienced seismic changes in recent years and an organization has been resurrected to help navigate the new landscape: The Council for Retail and Sales (CRS) is back and now at the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus.

On June 15 a ceremony was held to recognize the donors making this possible. Walmart donated $10,000; Sherwin-Williams donated $2,500 specifically to sponsor the CRS regional collegiate challenge in November; and Erie Insurance donated $1,800 to CRS. The funds will be used for operations and programs.

Group of employees from Penn State Lehigh Valley and Walmart standing with large signed check

The Walmart and Penn State Lehigh Valley teams celebrate the $10,000 gift from Walmart to the Council for Retail and Sales. 

Credit: Denise Ogden

The mission of the CRS is to become a leading authority on issues and solutions facing the retailing and sales industries. The CRS will also focus on connecting students with industry professionals through case competitions and internships. The council's activities will help develop and foster a positive image of the retailing and sales industries.

In 2009, The Center for Retailing Solutions was formed under the direction of James R. "Doc" Ogden, along with other academics and representatives of a few retail organizations.  In 2013, after Ogden retired from Kutztown University, the center went dormant. In 2017, the CRS was moved to Penn State and rebranded as the Council for Retail and Sales.

The new CRS is housed in the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, which is Penn State Lehigh Valley’s innovation hub. The CRS received a strategic planning grant from Penn State,  which will help the center grow and also will position it as a template for the formation of other industry councils under the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox umbrella.

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, started in 2015, is a Penn State- and community-sponsored business accelerator program created as part of the Invent Penn State initiative. The impact of these grants is far reaching, with 21 Penn State undergraduate campus communities offering coworking space, accelerators, legal and IP advice, and rapid prototyping resources — all free to the community — that will drive innovation and economic growth.

The Council for Retail and Sales is currently conducting a membership drive for retailing professionals, and professors and students from area colleges.

“The CRS will be a conduit for faculty, retail and sales executives, and students," said Ogden. "Center membership is open to anyone with an interest in the retailing and sales arena. Already planned for the fall are an entertainment retailing conference, a scholarship fundraising event and a regional student competition, powered by Sherwin-Williams.”

For more information about the CRS, membership and its upcoming events, visit the CRS website; or contact Ogden at 610-434-6252, or Valerie Peters, Lehigh Valley LaunchBox business development associate, at [email protected] or 610-285-5208.