Christian Retailing

Northland church store moves into new space Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Friday, 14 December 2012 03:07 PM America/New_York

NorthlandNewStoreNew location for 25-year-old store ties in with a re-emphasis on resourcing the church

Northland—A Church Distributed in Longwood, Fla., recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its bookstore. A September event commemorating the milestone with discounts and drawings attracted attention from customers—and some surprise.

“You’ve been here that long?” became a familiar refrain as Manager Donna Duckhorn and her team chatted with customers. Describing them as “impressed” that the store had been in business that long, she said: “I think we’ve just been a staple and they count on us being here when needed. They expressed gratitude for the years of service and wished us 25 more years.”

Publishers and other vendors responded well to Duckhorn’s email requesting items for the drawings Monday through Thursday, which encouraged shoppers to come in at slower times. Customers submitted tickets for the drawings, and the tickets were then saved for the grand prize drawing of a fall picture from Dicksons, which was part of the inventory.

Near the time of the store’s celebration, however, came a big change. Northland—a congregation with about 15,000 in attendance, including 4,000 online—opted to use the space the bookstore had occupied for connecting with first-timers and new believers and as a small chapel. When the church was considering the move, Duckhorn was asked to be a part of the process.

In mid-November, the store made the transition and now occupies what was the church’s hospitality suite and storage area, which is about the same space as its previous location’s 1,800 square feet, but also is more centrally located.

The store is re-emphasizing its purpose, which is to resource Northland church rather than to compete with area stores.

“That’s always been the leadership’s direction for the store, as it was never designed or intended to be a full-fledged one-stop gift shop,” Duckhorn said. “Resources are our focus to help bring God’s people to spiritual maturity.”

Still, the move is an adjustment, and there have been some layoffs. Two of the store’s part-time, paid employees lost their jobs, another part-timer was moved to a different department, and a full-time assistant manager was added and filled by Abi Mills, a former part-time employee. 

The store is planning a celebration to honor the ministry of those who are leaving. Along with providing scheduling and reference help, Duckhorn said she also appreciates the fact that the church is allowing time for these staff reductions, “letting people transition through the end of the year.”

The store also plans to be more “strategic” with its buying, opting for different vendors than area Christian stores use, Duckhorn said. “We’re going to go a little deeper on meaningful pieces like purity rings and higher-end jewelry.” 

Some areas are being expanded, too, including Bibles, the teen and pre-teen section and the small group study section. There is also a new, comfortable reading area for customers.