Christian Retailing

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GENI: It's not too late to reboot your store! PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 04:19 pm UTC

A message from Geni Hulsey, president of the Church Bookstore Network:

Does it ever frustrate you that almost everything in our lives, it seems, is computer-driven? The other day my phone was not allowing me to read my email, so I called my IT department—my son—to ask him what was wrong.

His solution: “Reboot it, mom.” What? I thought it was a phone? Oh, no, it is a computer.

At least once a month my (real) computer locks up and I am reminded of the words of our IT guy at Houston’s First Baptist Church: “Don’t call me until you have rebooted at least twice.”

Right now, it seems as though much of retail is in a non-operational mode. Those who are managing stores have tried nearly every “trick in the trade,” so to speak, to economically jump-start their businesses.

Some are choosing to close their stores, conceding that things are shifting too quickly and in such a way that they just can’t adjust. Some churches are doing the same thing with their stores. One pastor said: “It just did not work out the way I thought it would and with the e-books coming on strong. … ”

There is frustration and questions everywhere you turn. I think it is time to reboot this system.

In a couple of weeks' time, retailers will meet in Orlando, Fla., at the lovely Florida Hotel and Convention Center to do just that, at Christian Retailing's Retailing ReBoot 2011.

The leadership of the Christian retail and publishing industry is just as concerned about the present situation as those who stand behind the counters, order and stock the books, and pay the bills.

Some of them will be at Retailing ReBoot to share their wisdom and insights with us.

There will be great discussions about how technology is affecting book sales, how gifts are impacting sales and how best to give them a presence in your store, and how vital customer service is to the life of your store.

One thing I have learned about this industry is that some of the greatest ideas come from those who are on the frontlines, those who deal with the customers each day. There will be many times during the seminars, panel discussions and mealtime focus sessions that everyone will have opportunity to share their own “reboot” experiences.

One part of our lives that needs “rebooting” on a consistent basis is our spirits. We get tired, in a hurry and forget to feed the very part of us that is the source of productivity, creativity and hope. At Retailing ReBoot, there will also be times of spiritual refreshing that will encourage you to continue on the path on which God has led you.

It is not too late for you to be part of the event. It has been planned to be very compact this year and you will only need to be away two nights. The dates are April 26-28—just go to, where you will find the schedule, the vendors, the seminars, hotel information and registration form that you can submit online or by fax.

The greatest thing is the fellowship and the friends that you will make and how you will share with and encourage each other, not just in these three days, but all year round.

I can’t wait to see you!

RETAILING REBOOT: CBA chairman joins panels PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 04:13 pm UTC

CBA chairman George Thomsen is among retailers due to be sharing ideas and advice at Christian Retailing's Retailing ReBoot 2011, April 26-28 at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Fla.

The general manager of the award-winning The Harvest Bookstore at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., is scheduled to join other store representatives, consultants and suppliers to discuss issues at a series of roundtable sessions at the event themed “Engaging Without Limits.”

Among the topics to be addressed are Bible and book categories, the impact of digital publishing and customer service and experience. There will also be worship and inspirational messages and a suppliers' exhibit area. The program will also include an authors' reception and the announcement of the winners of the magazine's 2011 Retailers Choice Awards.

Originally organized solely for church stores and formerly called The Gathering, the event has been renamed this year to reflect its inclusion of independent retailers and the need for stores to "reset" for the future, said Christian Retailing Publisher Dave Condiff.

"The old ways of running things don't meet the current challenges and future needs of the industry," Condiff said. "But smart stores are being proactive about making changes. We want to come together to learn from and encourage each other."

Click here for more information on Retailing ReBoot 2011.

REGIONAL REPORT: New manager's third megachurch position PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 04:10 pm UTC

Veteran church bookstore leader Janet McKinley has taken over the retail reins at a third pastor-author’s congregation.

She has been appointed manager of The Bookstore at First Baptist Church, Atlanta, where Charles Stanley has served for more than 40 years. His In Touch program broadcasts internationally and he is the author of more than 30 books.

McKinley began her new job in December, after five years as assistant manager and buyer at the bookstore at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston. The store was named The Church Bookstore's Church Bookstore of the Year in 2007. Prior to that, McKinley was manager of the bookstore at Ed Young's Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas.

The 3,000-square-foot store at First Baptist, Atlanta is located near the Dunwoody church’s worship center and is staffed by paid employees and volunteers. In addition to Stanley's books and sermons—available on CD and DVD—the store sells other books, Bibles, gifts and children's products.

“We really want to grow the church store, and we want to do some outreach programs through the bookstore, to become a destination store for the area because there’s no other Christian bookstore around,” McKinley said.


INSIGHTS: Rules for recommending resources PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 04:07 pm UTC

Book shoppers come in two kinds. The first is a customer who knows exactly which title they want. This is the sort of person who keeps lists of the books they want to read, or have read, and buys books on a regular basis. They are a store's best special-order customers.

The second kind of book buyer is the person who has no idea what to read, and perhaps lacks the confidence to select a book on their own. These are the customers who really need, and are eager for, a helpful recommendation.

Here are some ways you can help shoppers, and increase sales, by pointing visitors to particular titles and products.

Leaders: Create a special section highlighting materials recommended by church staff members or other leaders in the church. Titles can include books, DVDs or CDs. This section should be clearly marked with signage.

Display each book face-out, with a small sign that lists the title and author, the name of the staff person, their title or job and a sentence or two detailing why they recommend the item. Depending on exactly how the book is displayed, you can use a small acrylic stand-up sign holder or an acrylic shelf sign holder to hold the review information.

Endorsements by a pastor are particularly influential. We compile our “staff recs” list by emailing staff members a couple of times a year to ask for their input. Even though most church staff are busy people, we have found most more than willing to contribute.

It’s easy to get started with a staff recommendation area—the key is to maintain it. That requires some follow-up and consistency by bookstore staff.

Children: Summer reading programs are a great way to recommend titles to young readers and their parents. Each year, we partner with our children’s ministry program to sponsor summer reading. Children keep track of time they spend reading and come into the store to record their minutes.

They can select a small prize—a novelty, sticker or some candy—each time they come in and also enter their names for a monthly drawing for larger prizes, usually books. There is also a drawing at the end of the summer for a grand prize.

Best-sellers: Many stores have a separate display of best-selling books. Although they don't have the "personal touch" of an endorsement by someone they may know, these lists tell shoppers that the books are important in a different way, because so many other people are reading them.

You can find several category lists in each issue of Christian Retailing magazine, and at the Web sites of CBA and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association ( and Some publishers and distributors have lists of their own, too.

Categories: Aside from special displays, it's also important to have several titles in each category and/or that staff are ready to recommend when they get into conversation with a shopper. When someone comes in for a book to read on vacation, they don’t just want to hear, “The fiction section is over there,” or, “The grief books are on this shelf."

They want someone to pick up a book and say, “I really enjoyed this one because … ” or, “I’m hearing great things about that one,” or “This has been a blessing for many people."

 —Heidi Macias is manager of Books of Hope at Community of Hope Church in Rosemont, Minn.

PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Toot a tote PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 04:04 pm UTC

Don't underestimate the impact of a simple takeaway to touch a life. Church members and visitors alike may appreciate a visual reminder of being at your church, in the form of something bearing the church name. At Ebenezer Gift Shop at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta—historic home to the late Dr. Martin Luther King—“people want something with the Ebenezer name on it,” said Manager Oliver Huff. Among products the store carries are totes, T-shirts, mugs, key chains, pencils and magnets.


ADVICE: Dear Betty PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 03:59 pm UTC

In our store, we offer discounts to church ministries. Is 40% too much?

The percentage of discount given by church stores to other church ministries varies from store to store. Store philosophy determines the percentage of discounts, but common sense should not be overruled.

Not all inventory is purchased with the same discount, so a good business rule is to not give equal discounts for all products. For example, a book secured direct from the publisher might have an entirely different discount than the same book being purchased from a distributor. The difference could run as much as 15%-20%. But if the discount to the ministry never changes, then the profit the store receives varies book by book.

If your store is responsible for paying its own employees, buying its own inventory and any other operating expenses, then discounts are a major consideration.

Got a question for Betty Bookstore? Write to her at

CHURCH LIFE: Growing generous kids PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 02:59 pm UTC

What parents say and do when it comes to charitable giving and volunteering can plant seeds of generosity in their children, according to new research.

Parental behavior had more influence than religion, politics, race, household income or any other measured factors on the generosity of today’s Americans, reports Heart of the Donor, an in-depth study commissioned by Russ Reid Company of Pasadena, Calif., and conducted by Grey Matter Research & Consulting (GMRC) of Phoenix.

“While the research doesn’t show an absolute one-to-one correlation, in real terms today’s volunteers are 125% more likely to have come from parents who encouraged their children to volunteer, and 145% more likely to have come from parents who frequently volunteered than they are to have come from parents who really never did those things,” said Ron Sellers, GMRC president.

Respondents were asked how often their parents or the people who raised them engaged in 10 different behaviors while they were growing up, such as volunteering, making charitable donations and talking to their children about these behaviors.

A majority said that their parents frequently took them to worship services, encouraged them to save money (61%) and personally donated to a church or place of worship (52%). Almost half (46%) said their parents regularly talked to them about how to handle money wisely.

Parental activity related to donating and volunteering, other than giving money to a place of worship, was much less frequent. One-third said their parents frequently volunteered with a place of worship, with another 28% saying their parents did this occasionally.

Among people who reported their parents frequently giving money to a place of worship when they were growing up, 55% said they had personally given money to a place of worship in the last year. Of those whose parents were frequent volunteers, 49% had volunteered with a nonprofit organization in the past 12 months.

Source: Grey Matter Research & Consulting

Read the full report at

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Sermon systems PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 02:57 pm UTC

How do you handle recordings of your pastor's message? How quickly is it available after the service? How do you catalog each one and how many pastor sermons do you have available in-store? How do you promote this service?

Share your experiences and ideas with others. Write to

Tuesday, 12 April 2011 02:55 pm UTC

“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.”

Prov. 9:9, New International Version

GENI: The place for new ideas for your store PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 09:52 am UTC

A message from Geni Hulsey, president of the Church Bookstore Network:

Have you made your reservations for Retailing ReBoot 2011? The event, to be held April 26-28 in Orlando, Fla., gives church stores and others the opportunity to come together for fellowship, worship, education and an opportunity to buy from some of the greatest vendors ever.

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