Christian Retailing

Appealing to the kids’ book buyer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rhonda Sholar   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:05 AM EDT

Publishing quality children’s books that sell demands considering all shopper motivations

Getting parents to exchange their hard-earned cash for a kids’ book can be a challenge in a down economy, but moms and dads will still plunk down the money if they are motivated.

Show with a mission PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:56 AM EDT

CBA INT13 show logo_CMYKSt. Louis event to emphasize outreach efforts, understanding future customers

Two significant outreach efforts by best-selling author Max Lucado and renowned evangelist Billy Graham will be emphasized at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). A second major focus—understanding the future customer—will have major emphasis during CBA’s marquee summer event, held June 23-26 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. 

Getting behind a cause PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lindsay Williams   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:31 AM EDT

Every link in the Christian retail chain is needed to serve a world in need

Christian retailers are realizing more and more that they can be change agents in their communities and beyond. Several have found success in leading movements to evoke change, especially at the local level, as they foster support for community engagement with ministries and charitable initiatives.

By the Book: Empowering Christians to live the abundant life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 04:50 PM EDT

Biggest book category may be ‘crowded’ but does much more than take up shelf space

One of the Christian publishing’s most wide-ranging and prolific categories, Christian Living is taking on a grittier edge, symbolized by select New Hope Publishers’ titles tied to a new anti-pornography campaign.

Bloggers build brands through product awareness PDF Print E-mail
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 04:37 PM EDT

Community engagement through the popular journaling and product-reviewing sites creates buzz—for good or bad

People around the world began posting their thoughts in journal format on the World Wide Web starting in the late 1990s. Short for “weblog,” the “blog” format grew in popularity, and today Wikipedia claims there are close to 200 million blogs in existence.

ICRS 2013: Learning the trade PDF Print E-mail
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 03:14 PM EDT

Product Intelligence Tours Bibles 1editPrepare to take in training opportunities at the International Christian Retail Show

Retailers headed to CBA’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in St. Louis may think that this year’s theme—Your Show, One Mission—means they should see all the new products they can and place upcoming orders for their stores at show discounts. But organizers of the June 23-26 show say there’s a lot more to ICRS than just the exhibit floor. In addition to opportunities to network and worship together, ICRS offers educational sessions designed to help stores boost their business and increase their ministry in their communities and beyond.

“The workshops offered at ICRS are important because CBA is trying to educate on best practices related to the topics that our retailer members are telling us are the most important to them,” said Curtis Riskey, president of CBA.

By the Book: Audio formats enrich reader experience PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 01:52 PM EDT

eChristian-VisioneeringValue-added versions of books encourage family togetherness and engage commuters

While Heaven Is for Real’s 8 million in print sales far outdistance the audio version, author Todd Burpo considers dramatized readings an important extension of the book’s ministry. The audiobook prompts considerable conversation at book signings and product tables, including tales of families listening while on vacation.

“I am impressed that these ‘family moments’ are shared with us repeatedly,” said Burpo, a Wesleyan pastor. “I expected and still appreciate the ongoing conversations with commuters headed to work or the elderly who have difficulty seeing enjoying the audio, but this new twist for family trips has surprised us.”

Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger, which continues to sell strongly more than a year after its release, is another example of a best-seller whose influence has extended via audio.

Serving the Hispanic Customer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 03:55 PM EDT

SagemontChurchSpanishConsidering why—or why not—Christian retailers should carry Spanish products

With the Spanish-language market growing—as evidenced by the Expolit show in Miami this month—many Christian retailers have tried carrying Spanish products in their stores. We asked several whether or not they carried Spanish products and, more importantly, why or why not. Here is what they had to say:

JohnDesaulniersJr“We have a very modest Spanish language section. We have about 8 linear feet (two shelves on a 4-foot fixture) of Spanish Bibles, and a 16 linear foot section of books, music and other Spanish materials. Our store is not near the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, so we are all the more a destination site for those customers. We also do not have anyone who is fluent in the language—I know a few words and phrases, but that’s about all. Those two reasons are primary as to why we do not carry more, but we do serve some customers periodically who can navigate bilingually.”

—John DeSaulniers Jr.
owner, Wellspring Christian Resources
Des Moines, Iowa

Reaching Women With Story-Based Nonfiction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 03:37 PM EDT

No matter the genre, authors appeal to readers interested in learning through relationship

When the digital image of a three-story-high book cover appeared recently in New York City’s famed Times Square, it seemed to represent the emergence of women’s nonfiction in the Christian market—and beyond.

Zondervan-OneLightStillShinesOne Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting (Zondervan, Oct. 1) is by Marie Monville, whose husband shot 10 Amish girls at a Pennsylvania school in 2006 before turning the gun on himself. At the onset of the shooting, his wife had just returned from leading a weekly prayer group.

“I think there’s a deeper interest in stories in general in our culture,” said Wes Yoder, whose Ambassador Agency represents Monville. “I think that people want stories that somehow inspire them and connect them to the real world.”

Although many women gravitate to Christian fiction, they also are exerting a stronger presence in nonfiction.

By the Book: Family & Parenting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 11:44 AM EST

Meeting family needs in a ‘self-absorbed’ era

Authors advise moms and dads on raising children in today’s hyper-connected culture

BHBooks-TheLoveDareForParentsWith 25 million copies sold of his more than two-dozen titles, Family Talk’s Dr. James Dobson remains the most visible Christian parenting author a decade after he left Focus on the Family. While no other authors have assumed a similar mantle, there is a continuing need for parental guidance.

Perhaps the biggest challenge parents face is hyper-connected culture’s “more, faster” effect, said Brian Hampton of Thomas Nelson, now under the HarperCollins Christian Publishing umbrella.

“Many parents find themselves nurturing their families and dealing with the natural conflict and mistakes of daily life on the public stage of social media,” said Hampton, senior vice president and publisher.

Thirty years ago parents didn’t have to grapple with video games, the Internet, cyber-bullying or escalating violence, said Claudia Volkman, product development director of Servant Books, part of Franciscan Media.

Meeting today’s connected shopper PDF Print E-mail
Written by Enzo Capobianco   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:57 AM EST

Retail 2D captures and employs customer insight and product information

Honeywell’s Enzo Capobianco, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) industry marketing manager, discusses the value of a two-dimensional retail strategy employing customer insight and product information. In Retail 2D, stores utilize information about products and consumers, while store associates become more customer centric and service focused.


Retail2DRetail Challenges With a Product-focused Strategy

The current retail model is being challenged. It is a system based mainly on one dimension: the product.

According to this model, products are manufactured, distributed and sold to consumers who buy what they find on the shelves at local retail stores, stimulated by traditional promotional activities communicated using mass marketing media. It is a linear, push-based process, centered on the one-dimensional (1D) EAN/UPC bar code. Over the last 40 years, the standard adaptation of the EAN code by the industry has played a key role in the huge improvements achieved by retailers in their supply chain optimization. Still, retailers today lose millions of dollars due to two main issues:

  • ?excess stock of unsolicited merchandise, which leads to increased discounting and lower margins and
  • ?stock-outs on requested merchandise which leads to reduced sales and market basket size.

Over-discounting and empty shelves are the main consequences of a retail model focused on products, where sales forecasts are based on past sales results, rather than on what consumers expect to find in their favorite stores. 

Helping couples become ‘relationally wiser’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Walker   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:53 AM EST

Publishers of love and marriage books ‘speak life, truth and hope’ into relationships

HarvestHouse-ACoupleAfterGodsOwnHeartWhile societal attitudes towards love and marriage may be shifting, the category remains one of the strongest in the Christian products industry. However, cultural debates don’t drive interest in this topic as much as the number of hurting people in society, said Lawrence Kimbrough, who edits Christian Living materials for B&H Publishing Group. 

“In no other publishing category do we have the opportunity to counteract this much personal pain or to cultivate this much personal joy than by speaking life, truth and hope into people’s marriages,” Kimbrough said.

B&H Books released the second edition of its best-selling The Love Dare in January—now with a free online marriage evaluation, new preface and reader testimonials—and will follow May 1 with the Love Dare Day by Day devotional. Associated with the film Fireproof, The Love Dare by movie-making brothers Stephen and Alex Kendrick has sold 5 million copies.

Kenneth Petersen, vice president and editor in chief of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, said the central role of marriage in relation to theology, spiritual life and the church makes the subject extremely important.

Innovative Bibles fill the market PDF Print E-mail
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:11 AM EST

Marketing to niches and meeting the needs of everyone from seeker to saved

AbingdonPress-CEBLifeGearForGradsWhile consumers straddle the fence between print and digital books and publishers struggle to find the right fit for the market, Bibles remain a bright spot in sales, Christian  publishers and retailers report. Downloading a Bible app on a smartphone or reading the Bible on an iPad may be the latest technological trend, but plenty of Americans are still buying what some may deem to be an old-fashioned kind of Bible. 

“I do see some iPads and phones in the sanctuary now,” said Jan Gilson, manager of Chapel Books, the nonprofit ministry bookstore of Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg in Pinellas Park, Fla. “But that hasn’t slowed our Bible sales. Bibles account for 20% to 25% of my total sales, and I see a steady increase each year.”

“Bible sales were at least even if not up for us this past year,” said Rick Lewis, owner and manager of Logos of Dallas. “Bibles sold like crazy. Why? Because people are looking for God, I think. We had a number of first-time Bible buyers in the last year.”

To remodel—or not PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Monday, 14 January 2013 04:02 PM EST

SueSmith2Sue Smith, manager of the newly reconstructed Baker Book House, offers advice to retailers considering a similar store transformation:

  •  Let yourself think outside the box. Now the store not only looks better, but lives better.
  •  Ask first, then listen. Ask what staff and customers want and need, then listen to their answers.
  •  Communicate with customers about changes. Let them know what sections will be gone for awhile; let them know when the renovation will be done.
  •  Keep the renovation in perspective. The mess is temporary, and in the end, the store will be vastly improved. 
  •  Decide early exactly what you want your store to be, then make all decisions based on that definition.
  •  Know your customers. What kind of furniture will appeal to them? Do they use the store as a study spot? Offer them tangible benefits such as Wi-Fi and coffee.
  •  Separate the store’s children’s space with lighting, flooring, bright colors and shelving that allows youngsters to access books.
  •  Position the teen/young adult section near, but not in, the children’s section.
  •  Brainstorm unique ways to bring customers into the store.
  •  Step out in faith. Plan well and trust God.
Historic store celebrates new look PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ann Byle   
Monday, 14 January 2013 03:59 PM EST

BBHExteriorBothSignsMichigan’s Baker Book House now serves its customers from a ‘completely new’ retail operation after total reconstruction

Baker Book House, the premier independent Christian bookstore in Grand Rapids, Mich., welcomed guests to its Grand Opening events after nearly 12 months of renovations. While the soft opening in November brought about 250 guests into the store to talk with best-selling author Ted Dekker, the Grand Opening featured a ribbon cutting, author visits and other events throughout January.

“We have recreated everything,” said Manager Sue Smith. “From carpeting to lighting, from adding event space to installing a fireplace. The store is completely new.”

What began as a remodeling project to replace dated and worn carpeting, wall coverings and display units became a total reconstruction of the store that included moving the entrance, adding a café and revamping every aspect of the 28,000-square-foot space.

Smith and Assistant Manager Debbie Butgereit started by approaching Dwight Baker, president of parent company Baker Publishing Group. After getting approval to remodel, they began researching costs and architectural firms. They came back to Baker with the grander idea of reformatting the entire store. 


Baker Book House moved to its present location at 2768 East Paris Ave. SE in 1980, and had been backwards ever since. The main entrance was at the back of the building, far from the busy street and customers’ eyes. Warehouse space was located in the front, presenting blank walls and a shipping bay to passers-by.

“We had three years of sales increases, which showed us that the store still had a role to play and that consumers in West Michigan were still interested,” said Dwight Baker. “We would have to double our investment over a simple remodel, but the limits of the current structure became that much more salient. We decided to do it right and get the store to face the road.”

The first step in the lengthy process was talking to staff members and customers about their likes and dislikes and what the store could do to improve staff and customer experiences. The staff needed better lighting, so more windows were planned to allow in natural light. Additional storage space on the retail floor meant employees weren’t running to the warehouse for stock nearly as often. The architects also consulted with shipping and receiving, warehouse staff and buyers for their input.

They asked customers as well. Used book buyers were adamant that nothing should change. They love wandering through the packed stacks of used books, loved the smell, wanted nothing to do with carpeting. Planners listened: the used book section, while in a different location in the store, still carries 100,000 titles and is still bare-bones when it comes to décor. Customers also wanted a café, so the store invited ICONS Cafe to set up shop.


The 12-month renovation wasn’t without rocks in the road. Managers had to figure out how to allow customers to shop while construction crews demolished much of the building. Inventory was cut, though no section was cut completely. About 95% of the used book section was stored in Baker Publishing Group warehouses, and gift and music sections were cut in half.

Parking was a problem as well, especially when giant construction vehicles took up much of the space. Employee morale took a dip, too. It was a constant challenge to keep spirits in a positive mind frame. All lived with constant noise and dust, intermittent Internet, smoke alarm and phone disruptions—and customer irritation when books weren’t on the shelves.

“We also had to learn how to make decisions in a hurry,” said Smith. “One day the construction crew said, ‘You have two choices: keep the used book section open, but it will take considerably longer to complete the project, or move all 100,000 books in five days to cut five weeks off the process.’ We moved those books!”


Baker Book House is well known for its used book section and its theological/academic section often tapped into by the area’s many pastors, seminary students and church leaders. The store designed those sections for optimal ease of use. One of its other goals, however, was to appeal to the children of those adults looking for just the right book.

The store’s train table had long been a popular spot for young guests, and Butgereit, assistant manager who is also the children’s buyer, wanted to keep that feel while offering even more. 

“We want the kids to feel at home and happy in the children’s section, but it also fits our bigger goal of being a family bookstore,” she said. “We want parents to feel comfortable letting their kids roam around the section. It’s definitely more shopped by the kids now, but we wanted to get the kids to interact with the product. I’ve been happy with the progress so far.”

One struggle that Christian bookstores, including Baker Book House, face is getting young adults into the store and into the YA section. Baker has placed the section near the music department, a big YA draw, and provided higher shelving to set it apart. Butgereit is careful to differentiate books for middle readers, ages 8-12; young teens, ages 13-16; and older teens, ages 16-19. The separation isn’t necessarily for the kids, but for parents who want age-appropriate books.


Creating a new bookstore is much more than choosing carpet and furniture colors, studying traffic-flow patterns and curtailing costs. Every decision comes back to the basic question: Who do we want to be? It was an ongoing discussion among Baker’s core staff.

“What we saw happening is that the church sees us as a resource for books and other materials, and the community sees us as a place to connect with others in the church,” Smith said. “Customers think of us as a bookstore first. We put our primary book space at the front of the store and created a visible, well-stocked academic section because so many pastors and students live in Grand Rapids or visit here.”

Smith calls it the store’s “book” image, which mandated an academic bargain section, the huge used-book section and a robust online business. In addition to books, however, the core staff was eager to create a community feel to the new store. A 20-by-28-foot community room with conference table and audiovisual equipment will be available to rent for churches and community groups; a 16-by-16-foot fireside room is available for informal gatherings or just sitting awhile; and the café offers catering and food for purchase.

“Our goal is making the store a welcoming place for the community, but also the best place to buy books and gifts,” said Smith. “Every decision we made about the new store was based on who we believe Baker Book House to be.”

Cost overruns and delays were no surprise to either Baker or Smith, but both feel the renovations were worth the ordeal, in part because the store needed the remodel to reach a new generation of customers, but also because the community needs to see a business improving, not closing. 

Store hours increased to 7 a.m.-11 p.m., the café offers snacks and light meals, Wi-Fi is free, the conference room is for rent, and the bookstore walls will display a rotating exhibit by local Christian artists. 

ChildrensDepartmentA new event coordinator—a position created to accommodate author and artist visits and other events, room rental and artist exhibits—will help organize the new vision to reach as many people as possible. 

“We’re thrilled about the new Baker Book House,” Smith said. “We want to thank the community for staying with us for so long. We really feel this new store is our gift to them.”

Dwight Baker said he sees the store as “the public face of our business.” 

“This reconstruction says that we’re here for the long term,” he added. “The community has been supporting the store for decades; we owe this store to the customers. I think it’s going to be a community center for the faithful.” 

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Next > End >>

Page 7 of 9