|Church store sees lives changed at mall kiosk|
|Written by Ginny McCabe|
|Tuesday, 05 March 2013 11:21 AM America/New_York|
Initiative with break-even sales pays off in souls saved through staff’s ‘non-offensive approach’
Manager Robert Villegas of Calvary Christian Store and his team have discovered an effective way to evangelize—by starting a kiosk at the mall. An outgrowth of the store at Calvary Chapel Oceanside in Oceanside, Calif., the kiosk began operating at Westfield Plaza Camino Real Mall in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2011 and has grown its business since then.
Stocking the kiosk with popular items served as a tool that opened the door for store staff to talk with shoppers about Jesus. It put them in front of thousands of shoppers in a high-traffic area that typically reaches several million people a year—and it paid off in spiritual and financial terms.
In November and December 2011, more than 115 people prayed to receive Christ at the kiosk. In terms of the bottom line, sales in 2012 averaged about $26,000, which Villegas said was break-even. He believes the life-changing impact had far greater value than the sales.
“I would tell my staff to smile, wish people ‘Merry Christmas’ and say, ‘Hey, can I show you something really cool?’ Then bring them over to the cart and use the product and the Word on the product to share the gospel. That becomes more of a non-offensive approach,” Villegas said.
Eye-catching items drew shoppers to stop at the kiosk. Among them were baby bodysuits from Little Disciples with phrases such as “Jesus Loves This Baby,” or “Born to Worship.” The cart was also stocked with Christian T-shirts on mannequins with big, bold messages; Spirit & Truth Christian Jewelry Designs’ products with scripture, popular books and music.
Villegas said there was interest in the products from the first day the kiosk opened.
“We had shirts from NOTW that said ‘Know Jesus Know Peace,’ and shirts with ‘God is Good All the Time, All the Time God is Good,’ ” he said. “The catchy messages stood out. You see this one little cart in the midst of the other stores and carts that screams Jesus and it threw people off. They are walking, they see it, boom, and said ‘What is this?’ This was a great way to minister to people in the midst of the craziness and commercialism at Christmas time.”
Serving a church of 2,500 to 3,000, Calvary Christian Store continues to grow its annual sales to more than a projected $500,000 this year. The 2,700-square-foot store recently added Saturday hours, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., and it has become the second-largest selling day of the week.
In working with the church leadership, the goal has been to solidify business, make it strong and minister to the church body. Additionally, the store wants to branch out, build the brand of the store and the church within the community and share Christ. In the future, they hope to work with the local Chamber of Commerce, and reach out to tourists and the military.
“The idea is to get outside of the church walls and use the vehicle of retail,” Villegas said.