Christian Retailing

'Doing something extra' and involving the community Print Email
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 08:53 AM America/New_York

Events emphasis: Servant's Heart Gifts & Books, Camp Hill, Pa.

Fitchner_VickiVicky Fichtner is passionate about fulfilling the biblical command to practice hospitality. The co-owner of Servant's Heart Gifts & Books in Camp Hill, Pa., uses her store to make customers feel special and connect with the wider community.

"We love to offer special events," Fichtner said. "It gives us a chance to really do something extra for our guests, and to involve the community in a new way."

From pastor's luncheons, Vacation Bible School (VBS) workshops and a summer reading club for children to book signings and specialty parties for new DVDs as well as celebration events, it seems there is always something going on at Servant's Heart.

The store recently held a fifth-anniversary celebration with activities in the parking lot-including a sidewalk sale and mobile blood bank. Besides a concert in a large tent featuring GRAMMY- and Dove-Award-winning Southern gospel group Original Couriers and other recording artists, the daylong event also featured a children's fair-including crafts, face-painting, bounce houses and free food.

"During the weeks prior to our anniversary, we contacted our vendors and told them we were having this event, and would they support us with product," Fichtner said. "Our reps and vendors came through in such a big way that every guest that made a purchase that day was able to receive a great gift."
During the anniversary celebration, the store also held a grand opening for its new 1,500-square-foot café-which featured free food prepared by Fichtner's son, a chef and culinary arts student.

Strategies-pix"With this new café, we also now offer a new conference room," Fichtner said. "It's another way we sponsor events on a small scale. We have Bible study groups and church office personnel booking time in the conference room, and ordering service from the café."

In addition, the store recently expanded its retail area from approximately 7,000 square feet to approximately 11,000 square feet.

"It has afforded us the space to spread our wings and offer the kind of events that we love to do and excel in," Fichtner said.

She added that every event is promoted via advertising in area magazines, press releases, postcards, bag stuffers and posters placed in churches and local businesses.

"These events have increased our exposure in the community, and brought more people through the doors," she said. "We have a staff that works hard together to make things happen."

Depending on the event, each gathering can draw from 10 to 1,000 attendees, Fichtner said.

"We always try to remember 'to work as for the Lord, and not for men,' " she said. "The number of people you are serving at an event should not determine your effort. ... We came up with the name of Servant's Heart for an obvious reason.

"Events will always be a part of our business plan; it's part of the way we serve."