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ADVICE: Dear Betty PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 02:43 pm UTC

With all the new technology available to us, should we still be carrying paper calendars? Isn’t everyone going digital?

That is an interesting and challenging question that even old Betty has been toying with recently. You are right in that many of us now have iPhones or BlackBerrys that house our calendars. In fact, I have so many pieces of technology that have calendars that I have a hard time settling on which one to use.

Yet, there are still times when I rely on the small printed calendar I received from one of the insurance agents in my church, when I need to know when payday falls or what day of the month the youth choir will sing in the services. Maybe it’s my age or maybe it’s habit, but I still want to see it and hold it in my hands.

Whether or not to carry the 2010 wall calendars is the decision of the hour or if undated perpetual calendars are your “safe” choice for next year, the answer is to be knowledgeable of your customer base. Will Aunt Mae be upset if you don’t have the wall calendar with “Really Woolly,” or will Margaret Ann be shopping elsewhere to find her pocket calendar that fits just right in her well-worn Bible cover? These are things you must consider.

I have decided to cut down on the printed calendars with dates, but have enough in stock for those regulars who count on me to supply their yearly purchase. However, I have also moved in more non-dated journals, memo books and so forth, for the younger soccer moms who really need a place to jot down their grocery list and Bible promise for the day. Sounds like a good plan for me and hopefully you can arrive at one that fits your store and your favorite customers.

Got a question for Betty Bookstore? Write to her at

CHURCH LIFE: Looking for a quick fix PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 02:40 pm UTC

Two issues of particular interest and concern to church bookstores are among six key “megathemes” in church life and society highlighted by Barna Group.

Reflecting on studies undertaken in 2010, the leading Christian organization notes that “the Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate,” and “growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.”

What used to be basic, universally known truths about Christianity are now “unknown mysteries to a large and growing share of Americans—especially young adults,” the organization says in an end-of-year review. Among the findings in 2010 were that while most people regard Easter as a religious holiday, only a minority of adults associate Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Other examples included the finding that few adults believe that their faith is meant to be the focal point of their life or to be integrated into every aspect of their existence. Additionally, a growing majority believe the Holy Spirit is a symbol of God's presence or power, but not a living entity.

In regards to life lessons, most teenagers prioritize education, career development, friendships and travel. “Faith is significant to them, but it takes a back seat to life accomplishments and is not necessarily perceived to affect their ability to achieve their dreams,” the Barna review observed.

Among adults, the areas of growing importance are lifestyle comfort, success and personal achievements. “Those dimensions have risen at the expense of investment in both faith and family. The turbo-charged pace of society leaves people with little time for reflection. The deeper thinking that occurs typically relates to economic concerns or relational pressures. Spiritual practices like contemplation, solitude, silence and simplicity are rare.”

Source: Barna Group.

To read the report in full, go to

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: One thing for '11 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 02:39 pm UTC

What is a change you plan at your store to make the coming year a good one? Aiming to increase staff training, organize more events, redesign and redecorate?

Share your New Year's resolutions with others at

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 02:37 pm UTC

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14, New International Version 

GENI: My Thanksgiving thank-yous PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 05:00 pm UTC

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

Most of us will be sitting down soon to a table laden with beautiful, tasty food. We will eat too much and fall asleep pretending to watch football. And at some point someone will ask, “What are you thankful for this year?”

To prepare, this year I am sitting down with pen in hand to write out the blessings I have seen. I will thank Him for each one and then place the list in my Bible where I will see it frequently and be reminded of all of the good things, challenges and wonderful people God has brought into my life.

It goes without saying that the one thing in my life I am most grateful for is the grace and mercy Christ has shown me through salvation, but in this space I want to thank some very special friends.

First, the managers and workers in our church stores in all 50 states. I have been calling through a list of more than 2,000 churches and have talked to volunteers, paid personnel and church staff doing three or more jobs, including the bookstore. I have heard the hearts of those involved in this ministry. Thank you for your commitment to a sometimes very hard and thankless job. I am so grateful that you have the vision and commitment to serve our Lord in this way.

Many of you are in tiny stores in areas that are more secular than Christian—you are a light in a dark corner. Some of you are at larger stores with your own unique challenges—especially with all of the economic turmoil of the last two years. Thank you for staying strong and being an encouragement to others.

Within this group there is a smaller group of managers to whom I owe special thanks. They are those who have taken on the job as regional directors for the Church Bookstore Network and others who have organized smaller local groups for encouragement and education. You have meant much to strength of the church store channel.

Then there are the vendors in this industry. From the CEOs to the guys and gals on the road and on the phones calling on our stores, they are committed to bringing quality Christian products that will encourage, educate and minister. They are interested in making our businesses succeed so that our ministry can prosper.

One of the ways they have shown their commitment to us, as church stores, is by being involved in advertising in The Church Bookstore magazine, being a part of The Gathering and taking part in regional and local church bookstore meetings. I am forever grateful that they have come alongside, believed in us and encouraged our ministry in the church.

I cannot complete a thanksgiving list without mentioning the folks who were willing to step up and start a magazine and an event especially for church stores. For six years we have had the support of Steve and Joy Strang and their Strang Communications team in the persons of Publisher Dave Condiff and Editor Andy Butcher. With all my heart, I am thankful to God for the hours Dave has given to The Gathering and all that goes with the Church Bookstore Network. And to Andy, I am so grateful for his making it sound like I can write.

So, this Thanksgiving I am especially grateful for the church store channel of Christian retail. Thank you and God bless you, each one.

CHURCH STORE NEWS: 'Significant' tax battle in Nashville PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:55 pm UTC

A church bookstore in Nashville is at the center of a legal battle being viewed as a major test case for religious freedom.

Authorities have ruled that For His Glory Bookstore at Christ Church is not eligible for property tax exemption and owes a portion of $350,000 in dues dating back to 2004.

Leaders have warned that if the ruling—under appeal—is upheld, it could set a significant precedent for church bookstores and other church ministries not only in Tennessee, but also in other parts of the country.

The dispute has turned the spotlight on the church founded in 1949, which has grown to a present-day membership of around 3,000 with a wide range of ministries in its south Nashville community.

Its application for property tax exemption for new facilities, including a bookstore, opened in 2004 was turned down. The church was “very surprised,” said Linda Hilliard, administrator. “The whole purpose for having a bookstore is to help the congregation, to get the books they need for study and discipleship.”

Following an appeal to an administrative judge, authorities approved tax exemption for parts of the center, but the bookstore and café were among other parts denied. A further appeal was heard in August 2010 and dismissed.

Since then the church has been readying another challenge to the decision, but has closed the café and relocated and reduced the size of the bookstore pending a final outcome.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is representing the congregation, said that the Christ Church case is “incredibly significant” for other churches. “Wrapped up in tax exemption issues are a lot of other issues of the government making determinations about what is religious and what is not,” he said. “There are very serious constitutional concerns that are at stake.”

Read the full report in the December issue of Christian Retailing.

PICTURED (left to right): Manager Katy Mashburn, Senior Pastor Dan Scott, Church Administrator Linda Hilliard

REGIONAL REPORTS: Sidewalk Sale, Joel Rosenberg signing PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:49 pm UTC

Florida sidewalk sale a success

 Charis Christian Bookstore at First Baptist Church Indian Rocks, Fla., went beyond its walls for a successful church-wide event, recently.

The store ran a special Sidewalk Sale as part of the church's annual country jamboree that drew visitors and members of the congregation, Saturday, Nov. 6.

“We did it in the lobby of the church near the bathrooms–so when everyone that attended the event had to come indoors, they saw our sale,” said Manager Martha Brangenberg. The sale included a drawing for a large polar bear plush, the winner of which was announced right before visiting comedian Dennis Swanberg performed.

The event also coincided with the store's two-day Munce Group sale, brought forward from the usual after-Thanksgiving slot because the church campus is due to be closed then. The Munce promotion included a four-hour period of extra savings Friday, Nov. 5, during which average sales doubled to more than $40, Brangenberg said. “Saturday’s average sale was only $14.33, but we went to 75% off and rang up a customer every two minutes for a nine-hour period.”


Texas author visit draws a crowd

Corner Books, the bookstore at Houston’s First Baptist Church, sponsored a visit to the church by New York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg during which he introduced his latest novel, The Twelfth Imam, and shared his thoughts on what will happen next in the Middle East.

Following his Nov. 4 presentation, Rosenberg took questions from the audience of nearly 1,500 and signed books.

Corner Books opened its doors in August 2009 after an extensive remodeling of what was the church’s dedicated library space. Now a blend of bookstore and library, Corner Books offers “books to borrow and books to buy” along with coffee, Wi-fi access, messages by church Senior Pastor Gregg Matte and more. In its first year of operations, merchandise sales were double the projected amount, and circulation among the library’s collection of more than 12,000 titles also increased dramatically.

“The mission of Corner Books is to extend the message, ministry and mission of Houston’s First,” said Jenea King, Corner Books director. “The evening with Joel Rosenberg was a perfect example of how this ministry lives that out, and we look forward to bringing in other authors who are in line with what we believe and value as a church.”

INSIGHTS: Selling to the senses PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:45 pm UTC

by Kathy Williams

Small yet powerful changes will cause people to linger longer in your store—and the longer customers stay, the more products they are likely to purchase. Making use of our God-given five senses harnesses a powerful marketing tool.

Smell: If your store is large enough, disburse gentle scents in different areas. Men find cinnamon pleasing, and women react positively to vanilla. Mulberry is a wonderful scent, appealing to a wide array of people—that's why it's often used in model homes.

Use potpourri, fragrance oils or candles, but be sure to keep safety in mind. You should only ever use a gentle fragrance, as some people have strong allergies to perfumes.

Sight: Everyone is affected by color, whether they know it or not. Your color palette should be soothing, avoiding clashes in displays or décor. Provide adequate signage so that customers can easily find what they are looking for, and ensure that there is sufficient light to view the finest of details on your products. Avoiding clutter keeps the store pleasing to the eye. Purge items from the shelves that aren't selling, and change displays often to interest repeat customers.

Touch: Make as many items as possible accessible for customers to touch and hold, saving out-of-reach areas for additional stock. Women especially like to touch before they buy. Consider making an area available for trying on apparel. If you have jewelry locked up or put behind a counter, you should always have staff available to get it out for the customer.

Sound: Though it is hard to please everyone when it comes to music, keep in mind that you are trying to create an atmosphere conducive to shopping and buying. This can't be done if your music gives people a headache. You don't want people to hurry, so find something soothing. Instrumental music is always a good choice.

Taste: Keep a bowl of wrapped hard candy near a place where an employee usually stands. When customers come to the candy dish, engage them in conversation, asking how you can help them. You can assist them in their search for products, and you can probably also guide them to some cross-promotions.

—Kathy Williams is the director for the Esther Ministries Church Bookstore at Palmetto Avenue Baptist Church in Sanford, Fla.

—Click here to read the complete article:

PICTURE OF THE WEEK: A welcoming wreath PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:35 pm UTC

Just as a holiday wreath on the front door of your home sets a welcoming and celebratory tone for the Christmas season, so it can be an inviting sign for shoppers, signaling that they will find a holiday spirit when they step inside—as here at The Source Christian Bookstore at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo.


ADVICE: Dear Betty PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:30 pm UTC

Is a virtual store worth our time and energy?

 betty-bookstoreA virtual store is a must for today’s market. Aside from just the visibility your store will get from having a presence on the Web, some customers find it more convenient to order products online.

First, you need to have a Web site. Keep it simple at the start. It should include directions to your store and basic information like hours and contact information. Pictures are a must.

Once you have your Web page, then the real homework begins. Do some research to find out what type of store you want to place on the Web. There are several companies that can customize storefronts for you, or if you have the personnel, you can create your own store using a “shopping cart” program.

A virtual store can be very rewarding, but it takes planning and time. And remember that once you have your store up and running, there will, hopefully, be orders—and then timely order fulfillment becomes very important.

Got a question for Betty Bookstore? Write to her at

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