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CHURCH LIFE: Identifying core customers PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 02:32 pm UTC
A church bookstore needs to be sure to serve well its core customers—active church members—and a new study from the Barna Group helps them identify who those people are.

Looking at expressions of "group" faith, such as church attendance and participation in small groups, adult Sunday school programs and church volunteering, the researchers found:

Women lead the way. They drive most faith participation. A majority of weekly churchgoers are women (53%). Small groups that meet for prayer or Bible study (60%) and Sunday school programs for adults (59%) are also more likely to be attended by women. Similarly, a majority of church volunteers (57%) are female.

Home churches are the only type of participatory religious involvement in which most attendees are men (56%).

Older folks dominate. Two-thirds of small group attendees as well as house church participants and three-fifths of church volunteers and Sunday school goers were aged 45 and older.

Bigger church, more involvement. Americans who typically attend a church of at least 500 adults were among the most likely to also attend small groups and house churches and to volunteer. Those attending a medium-sized congregation (101 to 499 adults) were among the most likely to attend small groups and Sunday school classes.

Small-groupers study more. Personal Bible reading is most common among small group attendees. Two-thirds of church attendees (67%) said they had read the Bible outside of church in the previous week, while small group attendees were more likely to read the Bible personally (84%). Bible reading levels for church volunteers and Sunday school attendees were both 77%.

"There certainly is a dominant demographic faith profile of Christians in the nation," commented David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group. "The typical profile of an involved Christian is a married woman in her early 50s."

Source: The Barna Group.

To read the full report, go to:

ANSWERS OF THE WEEK: Learning the hard way PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 02:29 pm UTC
We asked: What lessons have you learned from making mistakes?

When we started our bookstore 10 years ago, we tried to be all things to all people. Whatever people asked us to carry we did, including shirts, hats, wall art, gifts, jewelry and church logo items. We really didn't know what people would buy. Staff members would ask us to carry certain products or keep a large quantity of a certain book on hand. We felt we had to carry whatever they asked.

Through trial and error, we found that just because one person asked for something, that did not mean there was a demand for it. We learned the hard way, as we got "stuck" with lots of nonreturnable product in the early years. We had to set a narrower focus and stop spending our time and money delving into departments of items that did not sell well.

Also, we were not good on returns in the first five years. Because we were continually growing, we didn't worry about books that didn't sell when they were new releases. We just added them to the backlist titles to help fill up our shelves. Over time we discovered that was a costly mistake.

Our church bookstore has many repeat customers, so if a book didn't sell well when it was new, it didn't sell well when it was old either. We had to begin cleaning out our shelves and discounting many unsold books and also posting them for sale at a reduced rate on, just to get rid of them and recoup some of the investment.

Diane Busch, manager
RiverTree Christian Church Bookstore
Massillon, Ohio


One big mistake is I have allowed reps to sell me too much product. I often get overwhelmed with all the choices when a rep comes in and rather than thinking through who will buy it, how it fits the mission of the store and (that) I can always re-order, I go with the price-break quantity.

This is so not necessary--the extra discount is not a discount if we are stuck with the product, have to return and pay shipping or practically give it away to move it.

Special-ordering of artwork is another area that I blundered in just last week. I allowed a church staff member to pick out a piece in the catalog. She made the purchase when it came in. After she took it home and hung it up, she found that she hated it and brought it back. This $160 piece wasn't one that will sell well to our congregation and will probably be marked down well below price.

After the fact, I called the vendor and learned that they do not take returns, a "totally my fault" for not checking ahead on their return policy, not having a special gift order policy in place for the store such as a restocking fee or a no-return-on-gift disclaimer when special-ordering. It may end up as a donation to an organization when they come calling for items....

Lorena Allen
Harvest Bookstore
Eastview Christian Church
Normal, Ill.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Facts and fixtures PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 02:28 pm UTC
Church stores often have limited budgets for display resources—from where do you get your fixtures? Share your ideas and experiences with others at
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 02:27 pm UTC
"My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight."

Prov. 3:21, New International Version

GENI: An important niche category PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:49 am UTC
A message from Geni Hulsey, president of the Church Bookstore Network:

In recent days, I have found myself in the role of caregiver for my mother, a friend of many senior adults who need special care and even having to say goodbye to some special elderly friends.

When I realized my mother was beginning to show signs of dementia and then recognized how many friends were dealing with the same thing, I had to acknowledge how unprepared I was to be an effective caregiver.

What do you suppose was the first thing I did when I realized I did not have any good information on the subject? Started searching for reliable books, naturally. And I found some great ones, whose titles I will share with you—but first I want to talk about a sometimes-forgotten category in your store.

Do you have a "grief," "bereavement" or "caring" section? Depending on the demographics of your congregation, this could be one of the most important categories in your store. Sunday school classes, small groups, staff and individuals in churches are always looking for cards, gifts and books to give to those who need encouragement, information or condolences.

Even if your congregation is mostly younger—say, under 40—they have grandparents and other relatives who fall into the category of senior adults, and may find themselves in the position of part-time caregiver or in some other role that falls into this category.

The space allotted to this need does not have to be large. It only needs to have good signage so that customers easily see it when they come into your store. It should contain an assortment of products so that the customer does not not have to go to several different areas of the store to find what will work in his or her circumstance.

Check with each of your gift companies for items that fit into this category. For instance, I remember a little box that was made especially to hold the wedding ring of a spouse or parent who had passed away. I gave one to my mother when my dad died, and she has treasured that special box in which to keep a very special ring.

There are many other items—picture frames, items to be used at the cemetery, guest books for the funeral. DaySpring and other card companies have individual and boxed sympathy cards. It would be good to keep a few of the boxed cards in this display so that your customers see them with the other items.

Of course, there will be many who, like me, will be looking for information. And for that you need some really good books included in your display. Some that I have found helpful in various situations are:

Setting Boundaries With Your Aging Parents by Allison Bottke (Harvest House Publishers). Your parents don't even have to be ill or disabled for this book to be useful.

My Mom Has Alzheimer's by Linda Born (Bridge-Logos Foundation). This book is a blessing for the novice and the experienced caregiver.

Stages of Senior Care by Paul and Linda Hogan (McGraw-Hill). Available through Spring Arbor, this book walks you through the various stages of care that you may be confronted with as time goes on.

The Boomer Burden by Julie Hall (Thomas Nelson). This addresses something that we will all have to face at one time or another-what to do with all of the "stuff." It goes into detail about the value of the many things that our folks leave behind and how to deal with it all.

If you do not have this category yet, I encourage you to really give it some serious thought. Baby boomers are being faced with these kind of situations every day. Your customers will be grateful that you have thought of this very critical, but niche category.

INSIGHTS: Business-card basics PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:46 am UTC
by Teresa Nardozzi

Business cards for your staff will not only help promote your business, but they also could promote something even more valuable than potential customers—employee loyalty.

When you invest in your employees and give them "ownership" by printing personalized business cards for them, you are saying, "I value you." You are building them up and showing them respect by involving them in the ministry of your store.

When printing business cards, you must make a purchase of usually around 250 cards for each person, so be sure to wait until the employee is past the "trial" period, is proving to be a valuable employee and is planning to stay at the store. But after that, don't hesitate to spend some money on personalized cards.

Business cards with a blank space for a name to fill in not only look unprofessional, but they also communicate that the store can't keep its employees. Personalized business cards are worth the investment.

Your store business cards should look different than those used by the other church staff. Having a card specific to the store will minimize confusion about who to bill and where to send products when you are ordering at conferences or conventions. Also, it will give your store its own identity, which is especially important if your store had an outreach to the community outside the church. It will make a statement that a potential customer doesn't have to be part of the church to frequent the bookstore.

Include the following information, at the least, on the cards:

- Name of the store
- Name of the employee
- Store address
- Store phone number
- Store e-mail address
- Store Web site.

If your store has a slogan or a catchy mission/vision statement, consider including that on the card as well. It will give the customer a stronger sense of what the bookstore is all about. Also, if you're a CBA member, consider paying the fee to include the CBA logo on your business cards.

-Teresa Nardozzi is the former manager of Charis Christian Bookstore at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, Largo, Fla. She founded the store in 1985.

-Click here to read the complete article:

PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Personal picks PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:40 am UTC
Personal recommendations go a long way, especially when sales associates are also part of the same "church family" as their customers. But it is not always possible to find the time to speak with every shopper, especially on a busy Sunday morning. Highlighting staff picks by gathering some of their recommendations together in a featured display—such as here at Bethlehem Bookstore at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn.—can help.
ADVICE: Dear Betty PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:38 am UTC
Do all stores offer employee discounts?

I'm sure there are some stores that do not, but I would venture to say that most stores do offer some type of perk to their employees. The better question would be, "How much should I offer?"

Discounts vary from store to store and usually range between 10% and 30% off regularly priced merchandise. When dealing with sale merchandise, there is little or no discount offered.

Normally, discounts are given to employees who work a minimum of 20 hours per week. Yet, in some stores staffed primarily by volunteers, discounts are offered to everyone. It all depends on how much you can afford to invest back into your team.

Discounts are a wonderful attraction to potential workers and can be a blessing in disguise-many store managers who do offer discounts find that their own employees are often also their best customers.

Got a question for Betty Bookstore? Write to her at

CULTURE WATCH: Pro-life divisions PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:34 am UTC
Abortion continues to divide the country, with Americans lining up fairly evenly on either side of the issue, according to a new study by The Barna Group.

While 49% would prefer to keep abortion legal in all or most cases, 42% believe it should be made illegal in most or all instances.

However, only about one-third of the 1,000 people polled took a strong position on one side or the other. Just 15% thought that abortion should be legal in every situation, while 19% preferred that the practice be illegal in all cases.

Most others held moderate views: 57% expressed a mildly supportive or unsupportive opinion. Compared to tracking data conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s, the new research suggests that Americans are more likely these days to take a "middle ground" or a "not sure" position toward abortion.

Among evangelical Christians, 78% said they believed that the practice should be illegal in all or most cases. Non-evangelical, born-again Christians favored making abortion illegal (55% illegal versus 39% legal), as did active churchgoers (60% versus 33%) and non-mainline Protestants (58% versus 34%).

Researchers found little difference in views among born-again Christians under the age of 45 and older generations of Christians. Overall, 61% of 18- to 44-year-old born-again Christians said they wanted to see abortion be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 55% among born-again believers ages 45 and older.

Source: The Barna Group

For more information, go to

ANSWER OF THE WEEK: Small group resources PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:30 am UTC
We asked: How do you connect with and promote to small groups in your church?

For our church store, we cultivate a relationship with the staff person in charge of small groups. We touch base periodically to discuss the direction the church is leaning toward recommending group studies. Sometimes the church at large is studying a particular book and we carry that in the store.

We also let them know of new resources available, and they let us know what group leaders are looking for. We also work with individual group leaders, doing research on resources for particular topics or biblical books. A small group leader can "borrow" up to four books or study guides from the bookstore, if needed to review or share with their group, and return them in "sellable" condition within a week.

The leader can place an order for the total quantity of books needed by the group and receive 10% discount if ordering 10 or more. The leader can have individual group members come to the store to purchase their own copies or the leader can purchase the total quantity of books and let the members reimburse them.

Diane Busch, manager
RiverTree Christian Church Bookstore
Massillon, Ohio

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