Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Christian retail’

Reasons to Avoid Political Discussions at the Store

This article needs to be seen by all bookstore employees.

Ever since Donald Trump began his bid for the Republican nomination, much of our evening news feed, and many of our personal conversations have been preoccupied with politics. Discussions seem to be unavoidable.

With an election looming here in Canada this fall, the debates underway for the Democratic nomination in the U.S., and the recent election of Doug Ford in Ontario, political mindedness is sure to escalate. It’s easy for politics to creep into conversations at the Christian bookstore.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

First of all your store is an oasis, the type of place where some people go to get away from these types of discussion.

That’s important because the main focus of conversation should be about Jesus. That’s our distinctive; what sets us apart from the gas station, the clothing store, the grocery supermarket.

It’s also important because two Christians can have totally opposite views. We see this in the U.S.; there are Christian Republicans and Christian Democrats. There are Republicans who simply can’t support the President because of character issues. There are people who believe that Donald Trump is God’s man for the hour; a fulfillment of prophecy. There are people who think he’s the devil! It’s complicated.

Despite this, Christians are going to have opinions on social issues. Things like gun control, reproductive rights, immigration, LGBTQ subjects etc. are going to come up and it’s important to see these things from a Christian perspective…

…But here again we run a risk when we make these discussions political in nature. Only Jesus can change hearts and minds on key issues. Furthermore, nobody knows for sure that electing a particular Premier/Governor or Prime Minister/President is going to be an instant cure related to a perceived social ailment. It might be a small part of a larger agenda, but not necessarily a guarantee that anything would ever happen after the election.

It’s also important to remember that any statements you make reflect the store. This is true of each and every employee as well. If you take a position that doesn’t resonate with the customer, they’re going to say, “Well, Janet at the bookstore said that…” and that could be a form of negative publicity with that customer’s friends.

You also need to know, even if you’re speaking with one of your best personal friends, that someone else may enter the store and overhear the conversation and that person may miss the preamble or context that brought you to where you are in the discussion. And again, that person might say, “The people who run the bookstore think that…;” when in fact it was a comment by a part-time employee.

On that subject, remember that the conversation might be a trap. Someone may be trying to force someone to say something that is incriminating in the broader marketplace. I nearly made the mistake in early May of telling a customer I wouldn’t order something for her particular fringe group, and I had to walk it back and say that more accurately, I didn’t think our suppliers made what she wanted, but if she went to a particular website and found something suitable, I would bring it in for her. You don’t want to be the next headline-making legal case.

Finally, although our goal is always to point people to books on major issues, we sometimes find that there are very few Christian books on some of these subjects. Shane Claiborne is outspoken on gun control and the Unplanned DVD (when it releases) makes a point about abortion; but on the subject if immigration, much of what is written is from a secular perspective or from an academic perspective. On our store’s “Gender Issues” shelf there is a disclaimer which states that author positions on LGBTQ subjects may vary from book to book.1

You want people to be engaged, but at the same time, I think Christian bookstores need to exercise caution in political discourse.


Postscript: I know that in the U.S. “Christian Voter Guide” booklets are distributed in church lobbies and by the front door of Christian bookstores. People there wear their political loyalties on their sleeves and if the store is freestanding building, they will put election signs on the front lawn or in the window. However, we don’t have such guidebooks here and I don’t think political partisanship works well in a Canadian context. My advice would be: Don’t do it.


1Back in the ’90s when the abortion issue was quite heated (as it is now) I offered a customer $100 if they could even find a book on the abortion issue in my store. (There was one, by Chuck Colson, but only I knew that!) The point is that when people say “Christians are all homophobic” or “Christians are against a woman’s choice with her body” I would emphasize that 99% of the books in the store are not even remotely touching on these issues.

What My Customers Are Buying

This list reflects what’s going on in Cobourg, Ontario. Nothing more. It may not resemble your store anymore than this ECPA list for May resembles my store. But I thought I’d share it with you.

The one thing we’ve noticed is that unlike the list we did about six months ago, this one reflects a much higher percentage of backlist titles. Christian publishing generally has a stronger backlist than its secular counterpart, and frankly I’m thankful because without that, we would have nothing to sell.

The personal shocker for me was the absence of anything by Karen Kingsbury on this list. Our customers in our market — and I can only speak for myself — won’t pay the price for first edition hardcovers, even though we adopted an “Our Price” sticker program on hardcovers for the past six months. By the time Karen’s books convert to trade paper it seems that lately she’s lost all momentum for that particular title.

We’re grateful for Baker Books and HarperCollins Christian Publishing giving us International Trade Paperback Editions (ITPEs). Frankly, woe to Waterbrook (Penguin Random House), FaithWords (Hachette), and Howard Publishing (Simon & Schuster) if they don’t wake up and smell the coffee and realize what they’re losing in this market. Remember though, it’s literary agents who often insist that Canada be considered part of the U.S. market for royalty purposes, so aim all your attack on the publishers; there are cases where they were helpless, but there are just as many cases where they could advise the lawyers they’re killing their sales up here.

We also saw a general decline in fiction sales. Children’s Bible story books are a strong category as are Children’s picture books. Devotionals are strong, but spread out over too many titles to make our list (other than #11) Other book categories aren’t seeing anywhere near the action we see with things like boxed cards, DVDs, and the whole gifts-under-$10 category.

If your store does a local market chart, please consider sharing it with our readers.

How They See Us: Literary Hub Looks at Christian Publishing

The Quiet Revolution in Evangelical
Christian Publishing

The article begins:

How does one begin to describe the world of evangelical Christian publishing? It’s an industry whose target consumers make up a percentage of annual book sales ($600 million) that’s smaller than annual worldwide sales of Garfield merchandise, but still occupies a powerful place in its target demo’s consciousness. It’s replete with its own set of niche presses, academic imprints, literary agents and Big Five-funded publishing houses that exist apart from the New York City’s publishing scene. It’s an insular economy whose power players are nestled into the suburbs of cities like Grand Rapids, Michigan; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Nashville, Tennessee; where book proposals are evaluated not only by their sales potential, but by their broadest theological implications. Here we have a sect of the publishing world where women have held much of the buying power, but proportionally, precious little social capital in their own homes and in their churches.

Author Kathryn Watson spends the rest of the article continuing this theme, looking at the women authors in the field.

Continue reading the whole article at Literary Hub.

Christian Publishing News Updates

■ Ever wondered how Warner Press got its name? Christianity Today invites you to meet Warner Sallman: The guy whose picture of Jesus was once found in more churches and hospitals than any other image. “What changed in the 20th century with Sallman, was that Jesus images met American advertising and mass production. Prayer met plastic… Despite his beard, the “Head of Christ” is anything but hipster irony…Apparently, Sallman was attempting to create a more masculine Jesus than earlier portrayals. Ironically, many now find his Jesus effeminate — demonstrating the extent to which definitions of “masculine” are cultural and fluid rather than biological. In Jesus’ own day, and as a Jew in the Roman Empire, masculinity was as contested then as it is now.” 

■ Knowing what we sell: Apologia Studios posted this 50-minute video podcast “explosive and compelling story of Lindsay Davis who defected from Bethel” and addresses some concerns that I think booksellers should be aware of, even as we sell Bill Johnson’s books and Bethel Worship’s music.

♫ Gloria Gaynor, who had a hit song I Will Survive, has signed with Gaither Music Group for an album releasing early summer. Make sure your staff know what customers are asking for. Not to be confused with Gloria Gaither. This one is Gaynor.  

■ Wanda Brunstetter has officially passed the 11-million mark in book sales. Rush-To-Press reports on the Barbour Publishing author: “Brunstetter is undeniably one of the most prolific authors in both the Christian and mainstream markets with a published book list that exceeds 100 titles. A number of her works have frequented the nation’s most prestigious bestseller lists including the NY Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, ECPA, and more. Most recently, The Hope Jar, book 1 in her Prayer Jars series, has remained on the ECPA fiction bestsellers list 8 months straight since its August 2018 release.” Two more titles will release simultaneously in June.

■ Literary agent Steve Laube sits down with Publisher’s Weekly to discuss the changing landscape of Christian book marketing. “Publishers continue to brace themselves for the loss of even more Christian retail outlets this year, but the strongest impact of store closings could be leveled at authors in the category. The shrinking footprint of Christian retailers is already leading to a new normal where writers are also expected to have a marketing team behind them…”

■ Are you selling as many funeral bulletins as before? Just when a bunch of boomers are getting ready to die, the funeral industry is being shaken. “…Somber, embalmed-body funerals, with their $9,000 industry average price tag, are, for many families, a relic. Instead, end-of-life ceremonies are being personalized: golf-course cocktail send-offs, backyard potluck memorials, more Sinatra and Clapton, less “Ave Maria,” more Hawaiian shirts, fewer dark suits. Families want to put the “fun” in funerals…The movement will only accelerate as the nation approaches a historic spike in deaths. Baby boomers, despite strenuous efforts to stall the aging process, are not getting any younger…” The Washington Post reports on “thinking outside the box. (With fewer weddings and funerals, what will provide extra cash for pastors a decade from now?)

Tribute: In one of his best articles yet, Carey Nieuwhof asks who will replace Eugene Peterson and others like him when that generation passes from the scene. Seven important things that people of Peterson’s ilk have in common.

■ New Music from 🇬🇧 – Iron Lung by Martin Smith (of Delirious) But why that title? “Smith called on early memories of struggling for breath and how he needed oxygen to keep him alive. The vital importance of breath came into focus for him as a young child when he was diagnosed with a severe case of bronchial pneumonia. He was placed into an oxygen tent, similar to an early 19th-century iron lung device, which kept him alive while his parents fervently prayed for God to save his life. This harrowing experience set a course for Smith, giving him an acute perspective of the fragility of life and how God’s presence, His very breath, can restore what’s been broken.” Read more at NewReleaseToday.

■ Clean presentation: If you want to see what a webpage should look like which is promoting a series of books, you can’t do better than this one at Christian Book Discounters in South Africa.

■ Another one going off the rails? Highly respected for his work in founding anti-pornography ministry XXXChurch.com, author and pastor Craig Gross has launched Christian Canabis and recommends weed as an aid to worship. No it’s not a month-late April Fool’s story; it appeared Monday in The Christian Post. The quote: “I’ve never lifted my hands in a worship service ever, ‘cause I was raised Baptist. … I’ve done that in my bathroom worshiping with marijuana by myself.”

■ Who the cool kids are reading: You won’t get an actual schedule of speakers for the 2019 Wild Goose Festival until a few weeks before the event, but there are clues here and here and here. (Why promote when you can tease?)

Veggie Tales is back in the hands of the original creative team. “Brand-new episodes of VeggieTales are on the way, courtesy of a partnership between Trinity Broadcasting Network and Big Idea Content Group. Each episode will remain true to the classic VeggieTales brand to deliver clever storytelling, Biblically-based lessons, and memorable songs.” 

First there were Christian T-shirts and now… leggings? Would you sell these in your store? That’s Psalm 23 in case you missed it. We found this one at Zazzle.com.


■ I hope you find this update useful. Here’s a few graphics we created in a hurry to meet specific needs on our Facebook page this week. Feel free to steal them or adapt them. If you really, really need something and can’t create these yourselves, feel free to email me and ask for a favour!

 

 

Bookstores Automatically Filter Out Fringe Bible Translations

I ran this on my personal blog a few minutes ago, and thought it was a valuable object lesson for readers here. .

Every once in awhile I find threads on Twitter which I think are worthy of being preserved somewhere more permanent. Twitter has a 280-character limit, but you can create threaded posts in the style of a longer essay. The writer may have envisioned something temporary — a kind of Snapchat prose — but the words deserve greater attention.

Thomas Horrocks resides in Bloomington, Indiana where he serves as pastor of Stoneybrook Community Church of God and also as a chaplain in the Indiana Army National Guard. He’s co-host of the Sinnergists Podcast

I think you will agree that this story is a prime example of why we do what we do and how it can be of benefit to our communities to not have certain types of merchandise.

If you want to read this on Twitter, go to this link.


Okay, everybody. Time for a mini rant. As you may or may not know, I pastor a small church comprised of mostly older people, all of whom are wonderfully devout but basically none of whom have had any formal theological training. This probably describes most churches to be honest.

Today at my midweek Bible-study, one lady, who deeply loves the scriptures, brought to me a new translation of the New Testament that she obtained. It is called The Pure Word and bills itself as “an Unparalleled New Testament Translation From the Original Greek.”

Image

Naturally, having both an interest in Bible translations and the things my congregants want to show me, I asked if I could look at it a little closer. I started reading the preface and, folks, this thing is A. Train. Wreck.

Here’s the first paragraph

Image

“Never before has such a pure and genuine translation been completed.”

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

This is the kind of thing I would write if I was writing a parody. But wait, it gets worse.

They employ a methodology they call “monadic hermeneutics” in which each they assert that each word has “an accurate, single definition.” They, of course, base this  the Psalm that says “every word of God is pure.” They explain:

Image

Image

“Each word…was intended to have a single specific meaning, never open to personal interpretation.” Somehow these translators, and no one else ever, were able to “bypass personal interjection and cultural influence” and determine these “unambiguous and clear meanings.”

It gets worse. They also capitalize any word “which pertain[s] to God’s Attributes and Characteristics, God’s Works, Works of the Holy Spirit in us, or Works of Angels (as opposed to works of man.)” This they determined, of course, without “personal interpretation.”

“So,” you’re probably asking, “How does this work out in actual translation?” Great question.

Here is their translation of John 3:16, which they insist is “the original Greek to English translation,”

Image

These people claim they are “Unveiling the Original Meaning After Nearly 2000 Years” and that they are “re-implementing the full and original Greek…as it was understood during the first century” and that this “is commonly recognized as the most accurate…in the world.”

Image
Now, anyone who has received any kind of training in Greek or Biblical interpretation knows this is all absolute malarkey. But the good-hearted people in our pews may not know this.

These people are preying on our peoples’ desire for certitude and easy answers and using it to slip in genuinely debatable interpretation under the guise of The Original Word of God.™

We need to be teaching our people that the work of translation and interpretation is messy and that there things that debatable, things that are ambiguous, and things that are unclear, otherwise we end with this (below), but for real.

Image

 

7 (or 8) Reasons to Host a VBS Night

On Wednesday, a reader at Canadian Christian Retail Insights from Western Canada asked,

We’ve never had a VBS night… What do you guys do when you have them? Do you get samples from different companies? Are they worth the effort?

We thought this answer was worth sharing here. Jaret Voce owns and manages Agape Christian Marketplace in North Toronto.

Guest post by Jaret Voce

We host a VBS night every year. We used to have it in early February but moved it to late January. It’s always well attended. Last couple of years we’ve been averaging about 25-30 attendees.

We’ll send out an invitation (email and physical) to the event in early December that highlights the new programs and our event details.

We always have a Group Rep come out and do the presentation, we’ve even invited Cook/Parasource to come once or twice.

Hosting a VBS event has a few benefits:

1. You’ll sell more kits than you did without an event.

2. You’ll sell more VBS supplies that don’t come with the kits (crafts, etc)

3. It’s a relationship builder with churches. It reminds them that you’re able and willing to serve their needs.

4. You’re price-competitive because many publishers set limits on how low their items can be discounted by websites and others.

5. It gets people into the store, and they always buy other things.

6. It gets people into the store, including new people that haven’t been in your store.

7. It gets people into the store and allows you to show off your selection and atmosphere.

8. It also gets people into the store (Did I say this already?)

We wouldn’t go without the event and it really helps boost sales in the dead of winter.

used by permission

Exclusive Offers and the Sin of Partiality

This article appeared today at Thinking Out Loud

Early in the week, I was contacted to see if I knew how someone could get their hands on a song by Casting Crowns titled Listen to Our Hearts. They believed it was on the album Come to the Well, but they couldn’t locate it there.

A little research later, I determined that the song was a bonus track which was only sold to people who pre-ordered the album on iTunes.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened.

In the past few years there have been entire albums by Christian artists which were only available at LifeWay stores. Here, I need to point out that there are no LifeWay stores in Canada or the UK, so fans of the artists in questions simply could not obtain the product, no matter how hard they tried.

There’s something about this that just strikes me as wrong.

I saw an article the other day about “The Sin of Partiality.” Not surprisingly it began in the book of James (2:1-4):

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

My brain connected the article with the song request.

I know Casting Crowns needs to make money, and I’m not saying they should give their songs away for free — the influence of Keith Green notwithstanding — but somewhere between open source and restricted access there should be a balance.

I posted a fan-posted YouTube edition the song on Twitter as a type of protest. That way some people got to hear it that day. I added that a year, or two years later, “the song never surfaced in any form.” That brought this reader response:

To which I responded,

I realize that Christian retail is fraught with moral and ethical perils. The one I hear the most is, “The Bible should be free.” (I always have free copies to meet that objection.) I don’t expect the people at iTunes to live by Christian standards, but surely the people at LifeWay must know, in the back of their minds, that at the same time they’re doing something for their customers, they are denying others, right? (In a future article, we’ll look at the related idea of giving greater discounts to people buying in quantity, which is always an ethical dilemma.)

I just think anytime you say “exclusive offer” you’re letting some people in and shutting some people out.

At that point, the connection to what James says about favoritism is valid.


Note: The song was a collaboration between three artists. The versions by Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore have proved equally elusive in 2018.

Shortening the Distance Between the Sales Floor and Management

As a long-time observer of this industry, I’ve been asked many times over the past decade about store closings, probably a key barometer as to the health of our industry. On those occasions, I’ve often remarked that in some regions, it’s been the large market stores which have taken the greatest hits. The major cities lose key stores while many small(er) town stores seem to limp along as always.

I was thinking of that in light of the Sears closings this weekend. Again, a massive chain that some employees felt put too much distance between upper management and what was being discussed on the sales floor. (See the Toronto Star interviews with staff published Saturday.)

We must be listening to our customers.

Before writing this, I completed an order with one of several remainder sources we use. It wasn’t anything special, and there weren’t any key titles I was after. Instead it was a topping up. We had a slow year, so I don’t need to top up anything necessarily. However, without exception, each of the 30 lines on that order was based on some interaction we’ve had with customers. One or two of this, one or two of that, but all of it entirely launched with feedback and inquiries from shoppers; many of which make us aware of where we’re either missing or light on product sub-categories.

Here’s the sum of this:

I believe every customer conversation produces fruit for store buyers.

Buyers, owners and managers: Let your sales staff be your eyes and ears. You need to know what’s being requested. You need to avoid the isolation which comes with having an office. Maybe that’s why the small(er) town stores survive, because there is no upper management; owners are serving customers themselves.

If those buying the product aren’t on the sales floor, they need to keep their office door open so that sales associates can stick their heads in the door and say,

  • A woman was just asking if we’re ever getting ________ back in.
  • We just had a phone call wondering if we carry books by ________ .
  • Did you know we only have ___ copies of the ____ translation in stock right now?
  • I just unpacked a shipment from _________ and immediately sold two copies of _______, I think we’re out already!
  • On Sunday at all three services at ________ church, the pastor recommended that everyone get _______ .
  • I just did a look-up and confirmed that ________ is going to be going out of print; it’s one of our bestsellers; can we get more right away?
  • A customer just walked in talking about a new song Christian stations are playing by ________ .           …etc.

That type of interaction is gold. It’s on the same level of why major retailers are willing to invest or pay to get customer preferences and profiles.

You want your staff to collect email addresses, right? Well, it’s winter; it’s a slow time; get them to start collecting something else! Train them as spies! Get them to gather information in the field and bring it back into command central where it can be decoded into valuable purchasing decisions.

Sound like warfare? It is!

 

Taking the Show on the Road

You’ve bought the right merchandise. You’ve created eye-pleasing displays. The staff have had a product knowledge refresher. You’re offering some great loss leaders. You’ve done the requisite catalogues, newsletters and social media.

Now if only you could get some people in the store.

Today we feature two stores which are living out that great Biblical truth, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” On second thought, maybe that’s not in the Bible. But you’ll recognize the concept; this the “book table” idea on steroids!

Longtime Oakville Christian bookstore, Good Books is setting up shop in Orangeville,  Saturday December 2 to Sunday December 10 at The Centre Fellowship Church. As the map at right indicates, this is hardly a convenience for some local churches, but rather represents reaching out into a more distant market, the distance representing at least a one hour drive.

Meanwhile, Christian Books and Music in Victoria, BC is starting a six-day, four-location tour that would leave some musicians envious. The map below shows the relative distance of the four towns (we had to add one which doesn’t show on the basic Google map) and this should start to give you some insight into the costs involved in putting the merchandise and staff on the road. The schedule is printed below.

A tour of this nature must begin with establishing contacts in each location, many of which are probably existing customers of your store when they visit your community.

Next, you need to consider potential locations, which probably involves visiting in person.

Finally, you need to determine if the proposal is cost-effective (or if you’re willing to do it even if it isn’t!)

Key to balancing this type of tour is knowing how much merchandise to take with you and how much to leave at the store for your regular shoppers. This is both an art and a science!

…We’re in this business because we believe Christian products can change lives. This type of tour represents the highest level of missions outreach in some cities and towns which are probably most appreciative.


Thanks to Tim for a great story lead today.

 

Christian Bookstores are Department Stores

October 13, 2017 1 comment

While our motivation for unlocking the doors each morning may be that we see our stores as local ministry centres, we are also retail businesses, with the exception of a handful that are using a non-profit model. Our business sector is retail which puts us in company with every other type of retailer across the continent.

For that reason, the announced closing of Sears Canada should at least give us a moment’s pause. Perhaps not coincidentally, my UPS driver said something yesterday about the number of daily deliveries he’s doing is resulting in 12-hour days. Jokingly, I said, “So you’re working for Amazon;” to which he replied, “Well, I’m definitely not working for Sears.” No one reading this has escaped the reality of a changing retail landscape.

We are not only in retail, but like Sears, we are essentially department stores. In addition to books, most of us stock jewelry, t-shirts, wall art, greeting cards, DVDs, CDs, toys, picture frames, kitchenware and much more. Some stores are also, to varying degrees, still identifiable as Church supply stores, with non-consumer items such as bulletins, communion ware, and at this time of year, candles.

So we have to realize the vulnerability of the department store model. Looking at just Canada alone, consider the casualties of the last two generations in an approximate chronological order:

  • Eatons
  • Simpsons
  • Towers
  • Sayvette
  • K-Mart Canada
  • Bi-Way
  • Consumer’s Distributing (catalogue store model)
  • Woodward’s (western Canada)
  • Woolco (and Woolworth’s)
  • Marks and Spencer Canada
  • Sam’s Club (a division of Wal-Mart)
  • Zellers
  • Big Lots Canada
  • XS Cargo
  • Target Canada
  • Sears Canada

Frightening, isn’t it?  (See a more exhaustive list at Wikipedia.)  In terms of specialty stores, how many in your community have lasted more than 20 years? If we’re honest, we have to agree that new stores and restaurants popping up mean that old stores and restaurants closed.

So every time you read an article about what went wrong at Sears Canada, ask yourself if there’s anything there that might apply to your store.

I know in my case there’s a number of things in terms of visual presentation I’d like to update, but time, money and the constraints of the physical location make that difficult right now.


Related: The YouTube channel Retail Archeology looks at dying shopping malls and retail chains. This was filmed a year ago in reference to the U.S. Sears chain. If you have spare time (!) look around the rest of the videos on this channel.


 

Keeping Store Income Steady

In the past twelve months I’ve had the same conversation with people working for three different Christian charities. Basically it’s been, ‘While we appreciate one-time donors, we can only plan when people set up a plan for monthly giving. That we way we know ahead of time what’s coming in.’

In Christian retail we have no such advantage. While we’re for the most part not charities, we can often feel as though we are. Sales volume can swing wildly up and down. There are good days and bad. Yesterday was the latter in my store. $132 all day. Including taxes. Not enough to pay staff, rent and keep the lights on.

So what can we do?

  1. Keep store awareness high. We always talk about the ‘newsletter jinx’ — the days we do a mass email campaign are usually among our worst, but then days and weeks later people ask about an item they saw in our newsletter.
  2. Schedule frequent sales. You can overdo them, but sales do attract attention. At R. G. Mitchell, the thinking was that sales should start the day following a holiday (i.e. Thanksgiving.) This was a period they identified as a potential drop-off that needed to be offsetting promotion.
  3. Give people a reason to drop in. We just had a rare opportunity to be a ticket outlet for a concert. The response wasn’t huge, but it caused people to visit. A small group had a luncheon and then arranged for everyone to come to our store to pick up the study guide they’re using. All but one bought something additional. A local author decided not to do direct sales through his own network for health reasons, and told everyone the only way to pick up a copy was at our store. We promoted the special Canada edition of Our Daily Bread and told people they wouldn’t see it in most of their churches and encouraged them to pick up a free copy.
  4. Don’t fret daily numbers. You’re better off looking at weekly and monthly stats. You can’t let a few slow days induce panic.
  5. Change displays frequently. Your regular customers need to be confronted with things they haven’t seen before. That does not need to necessarily be new, it just needs to be different. Trading some merchandise between feature areas helps, or even taking two shelf sections and doing a simple left-to-right transfer will get peoples’ attention, costs nothing, and takes only about an hour.
  6. Minister to the needs people mention. Listen. Recommend resources. Refer to qualified counselors. Pray with people. With at least 20% of our clientele on any given day, I am the only ‘pastor’ they will speak with that month. If needs are being met, people will come back and/or tell their friends.
  7. Be honest with church staff. Let your colleagues in ministry know that you’d appreciate anything they can do to generate store visits or any ideas they have. Be candid with local church leaders about the struggles and challenges of doing Christian retail.

 

New Comfort Print Font Will Improve Readability

Like many other stores, I received this notification/reminder from HarperCollins Christian Publishing Canada about the conversion taking place among all the Thinline Bibles in the NIV, KJV and NKJV product range issued by the publisher. Although the image below is not as sharp as I would have preferred, the difference in readability is unmistakable:

If there’s any takeaway from this it’s this: Font size doesn’t tell the whole story. Consider what you’re reading right now (if you’re not reading this on a mobile device). This is the typeface for this article. This is the same typeface in bold face. This is the same typeface enlarged one size.

The size differential certainly helps, but the change in the the thickness of the type is all that’s needed to bring much greater clarity. And doing that, instead of going to large print, will keep the Bible at a reasonable size in the customers’ hands.

A website, ComfortPrintBibles.com is under construction but will be finished by the end of October. The video below can be featured on your store website or Facebook page, or embedded in your next store newsletter.