The nice thing about being a type of department store for Christian merchandise is that the whole enterprise doesn’t rise or fall on a specific product type. Sure, it’s disheartening hearing about what’s happening in Canada with HMV stores, but most of us probably continued placing CD and DVD orders, right? Just because the guy running the marathon next to you just crashed into the grass next to the sidewalk doesn’t mean you have to stop running.
Even if these sub-sections don’t have specific signage, staff should know how to locate all of these for customers.
Where to put things? For example are mass choirs a subset of choral music or urban gospel (black gospel)? At the very minimum, books are displayed spine-out, but CD spines are harder to find, and in flip-bins, a small subsection of music can easily be missed.
- Bluegrass Music — This should be distinct from country gospel or southern gospel
- Wedding Music — Usually found among the soundtracks; if you’re still carrying those.
- Celtic — A tricky genre that almost always involves some cross-filing, since the group Iona (which we still get asked for) belongs in contemporary, but many of the generic Celtic music aligns better with the traditional and worship sections.
- Chants and Liturgical — Tracked more in stores which are responding to a distinct Catholic market; but for stores that don’t, you should be able to locate the Taizé and John Michael Talbot quickly for that small market segment that wants them.
- Mass Choir — There’s a disconnect here between people who ask where the section is and people who actually buy. We found the word “gospel” resonated more with our staff, so it ended up as subset of southern gospel, which objectively would be my very last choice. Probably better in urban or a choir section if you have one.
- Budget samplers — Anything under $5 really belongs at the checkout. You’re trying to introduce non-music customers to new artists, not lose a sale within the music department itself. Keep impulse music at the checkouts.
- Music parody — Really there’s just Apologetix and most people would ask for them by name. Are they still doing new albums?
- World Music and Jazz — You probably don’t have enough of anything to form a section, but if you do, staff should know who and where they are in the store.
- Local artists — Music you’ve taken in on consignment from local bands and artists deserves to be featured within its proper style, not placed in some independent ghetto. If it’s rock, put it in rock. If it’s worship, put it in worship. They probably left you a quantity so just put them face out where people can find them. True, they’re taking up space where you’d rather display things you actually own, but hopefully you negotiated a decent margin. (We are so blessed in our store because YouTube’s David Wesley, with his album of acapella worship songs, is also a local artist. Let me know if you want some CDs!)
- ‘Tween music — Hate to say it, but in our store it’s a subsection of the children’s department, which is physically as far removed from the rock/contemporary section as possible. Ideally, it would be located in contemporary, but we’re really full there, and the parents are more comfortable when it is still part of the kids section.
- EDM — Electronic Dance Music is still the rage (or should that be rave) with some customers and would probably be happy in a section of its own.
- Spoken Word — Sorry, these aren’t music. Yes, some of the scripture medleys have a music background, but they really belong with your audio books.
What specialty music sections are unique to your store?
Frequently we are reminded that the non-white population demographic in Canada is quite distinct from our U.S. friends. Every once in awhile, it shows up in the Christian music charts. A decade ago (or more) Fred Hammond frequently charted in the top spots on American lists, but few Christian retailers we surveyed at the time could remember ever selling one of Hammond’s albums. So when Deitrick Haddon showed up in the top spot in the current print edition of Christian Retailing with LXW — League of Extraordinary Worshipers — we decided to go to YouTube to hear some of the music. The genre is unmistakably a mass choir, gospel sound; but what really caught our eye initially was the low view numbers (in the hundreds) on the YouTube videos we were watching. (We since found some higher ones; so apologies to my Twitter followers.) One video has a banner thanking people for keeping the album on the Billboard charts, but we couldn’t find anything in the Christian listings there that corresponds to the current chart position at Christian Retailing.