CBA role a ‘'huge sign' of acceptance Print
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 24 September 2009 11:06 AM America/New_York
Church stores celebrate colleague's appointment, report 'healthy' progress

Church bookstores celebrated another step on their journey to an integral place in the Christian retailing world with news during the show that one of their own will be the next chairman of CBA.

george thomsenGeorge Thomsen's appointment as chairman-elect, taking on leadership of the trade association's board in October 2010, was welcomed as further recognition of the church store's increasing significance.

Once on the fringes, church bookstores have become more a part of ICRS in recent years, with the store Thomsen manages—Harvest Store at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.—named a Jim Carlson CBA Store of the Year Impact Award winner in 2007.

Another successful church store—Prestonwood Bookstore at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas—was the first from the movement to receive the same CBA honor, in 2006.

Thomsen said in his new role he would not represent one segment of the industry over others. "I happen to be a church bookstore, but I'm a Christian retailer, and my heart is for all retailers," he said.

Thomsen's election after two years on the CBA board was of "huge" significance, said Geni Hulsey, president of the Church Bookstore Network. Though Thomsen had "strong empathy" for church stores, "he believes the entire industry needs to be drawn back together."

Thomsen was on hand to welcome church store representatives to one of two training sessions specially geared to the needs of church stores. Beverly Miller, a CBA retail consultant, explored the positives and negatives of using unpaid workers in her presentation, "Volunteers—You Love Having Them, But They Drive You Nuts!" She suggested ways to ensure a more dependable volunteer force, including ensuring that they felt the time they offered was being used significantly.

In her session, "They're Not Shopping in Their Own Church Store," bookstore consultant and former CBA board member Jo Ann Panter, addressed the problem of encouraging church members to shop in their bookstores. Determining whose idea a church store was when it opened was crucial to its success, she said.

Each session presented helpful ideas to the 20 or so stores represented, said Hulsey, who reported a "positive attitude" among church stores at ICRS. Judging by those in Denver she talked with, church stores seem largely healthy, Hulsey said. "Many of them reported positive sales numbers for the first half of this year."

However, some attendees were disappointed that some major publishers and gift vendors were not at the event. "For some church stores, this is the only shopping experience they have all year," Hulsey said.

Among those feeling let down was Sara Nelson, manager of The Scroll bookstore at First Evangelical Free Church in Rockford, Ill. "They don't consider us to be valuable enough to them?" she asked.

However, she returned home from ICRS encouraged to continue her church's bookstore ministry, which had been impacted by a church split.

"I was discouraged and thought I was going to call it quits, but I got encouraged again and have a new enthusiasm for the ministry I am in; I am excited to go back full and refreshed," Nelson said. "We can get so bogged down especially now, worrying about the finances and all that, we can forget that we are out there because people need to know about Jesus and grow."