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March 28, 2008

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christa Allan

I'm a "consumer" of Christian products and a writer who just signed with an agent, so I hope to find my own book in a store one day!

Over a decade ago, as a new Christian, I hesitantly walked into a Christian bookstore because, well, I'd never been in one before. As one who wondered why the books of the Bible weren't in alphabetical order, I didn't know if the sales staff would be "new-Christian" friendly. I realize now that's a bit of wingnut perspective, the staff would be Christians and act accordingly, but then it was like walking into a Prada shop when I bought shoes at Wal-Mart.

Today, I visit Christian bookstores for the Christian products. I think more people would buy books there if the store itself promoted books over products. Maybe even hosting author signings or if there could be book studies held at the stores or, instead of a book club at a neighbor/s house, why not one at the store itself?

Curtis Riskey

Amen, sister! I agree with you and many stores are doing just that. I am so happy you overcame your hesitation and entered a Christian bookstore the first time. We really want to serve anyone who comes in regardless of background, knowledge, or lack of it. We (Christian Retailers) are all glad you came!

As for your book, I wish you all the best with it!

Jackie Scott

I wish ro hear more please, because this is a serious matter for the Christian retail industry. I do not believe this is the way the Lord intended for it to be. Whilst I think Christian bookstores etc could employ other strategies, i wonder why they have to do more than the average other bookstore. I don't see so many strategies being implemented, yet they are prospering. Why do Christians have to bend over backwards to keep their clients? And aren't their clients largely the Christian community? So why aren't they patronizing their own, instead of greedy large merchandisers who are jumping on the band wagon because they see an avenue for profit?

I also have a problem with Christian manufacturers whom, I am SURE, are aware of the demise of their brothers and sisters and are still selling to large merchandisers because they buy more. Is it really because they want to reach a larger market? If so, at the expense of "him who is of the household of faith"? Gal 6:10.

I wish to reiterate that whilst there is more that Christian retailers can do, they are not the only stores who operate as they do and I am bothered that the suppliers of Christian products have not put something in place to help their smaller buyers to stay afloat. It seems the same attitude of the secular producers is prevalent amongst our own. We do business differently. We should at least; because we approach life differently from the world.

So I am looking to hear what the manufacturers have to say, in the light of what has been happening. And I really have to add that I am disturbed at how expensive Christian products are anyway. If the cost is so high, how do you expect small retailers to be able to buy more, sufficient to grow their markets? Larger stores can because they already have the funds and because the more they buy the cheaper it costs. But how does a small retailer pay the higher price and still be able to buy more? Something is terribly wrong in the Christian trade arena. It's like telling small retailers don't bother going into business; cause we don't care how you fare.

Lori

It is quite interesting that CBA announced that Nelson will not be at the show in July. It is the perfect example of how the "big companies" have forgotten about the "small stores" who helped to grow their business throughout these past years. In July of 07, Michael Hyatt of Nelson stated that Christian bookstores only accounted for one third of their sales and are shrinking while Amazon is the the fastest growing market. My personal experience is that after 25 plus years of doing business with Nelson, I am now a prepay account. I realize this is due to "slow pay" but I have never been "no pay" or isssued a check for insuffient funds and have paid every cent that was ever owed to them. I am an independent retailer who is now trying to figure out if it is time for my store to close, due to decreasing business over the past several years. Yes, I have tried many things over the years to grow the business and did quite well for many years, but it is a totally different Christian industry than years past. I don't think new Christians will find much personal assistance at Amazon or any of the other big box stores that now sell the products that I have sold for years.

Carol Olsen

Thank you Christa Allan for your comments. Yes, I agree that bookstores should be promoting books. I realize that taking time to read a book is difficult but sometimes I get curious about an apparent unknown that seems to all of a sudden take off. Current case in point is "The Shack". I took time to read it last week and was blown away by it. Yes, it is causing some controversy but Jesus caused quite a bit himself. We are supposed to be about comforting and encouraging and I think this book has made me more senisitive to those tasks. I ordered 4 copies when I finished the book and had all 4 sold within 24 hours because the people who came into my store who are readers listened to my comments about the book. I ordered 10 more copies and had one of those sold before they came in. I am going to give each of my employees a copy. I am constantly giving donations to this or that and I decided that it was time I give a donation to my own employees. Yes, they can borrow any book at any time but I wanted them to have their own to mark and bend the corners on certain pages if they wanted too. Maybe if we would just get a little bit fired up about all the great stuff we have on our shelves we would see a difference. I have readers coming in and I pay attention to what they say about different books. If I think it's something that would fit in my store I bring it in. Thanks CBA for providing an avenue for us to share comments and ideas. I just wish I had more time to read the blogs and participate. Hope others will take time to share insights.

Cristel Phelps

In answer to Jackie Scott, I find today's market very different than when I was growing up. Do I understand it? No, but as a retailer, I have to learn to work within it.

I'm a Boomer (and proud of it). I have always used Tide laundry detergent. I'm sure the others are good, but my favorite is Tide because it has always taken care of my needs. It is my friend. I have other choices, yes, but Tide it is! Does it cost the company to package my "friend" and get it to my store so I can take my "friend" home with me? Yes. Does it matter that I am a Christian (and want my clothes WAY clean because cleanliness is closer to godliness)? No. The Tide company doesn't care. My grocer certainly does.

In kind, I know the publisher or wholesaler has a cost to be able to provide product to me. I understand the chain of events that get a product to my store. I value that process. That is a Boomer trait. I have a sense of commitment. A strong one.

Today's market is VERY different. Most consumers don't care where they get their Christian products from (Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc -times infinity). They will find it wherever they can. How can I make them think of my store first??? THAT IS MY JOB. How can I, as a Christian retailer, make sure that my customers think of my store before any others while we are living in a time when there is no loyalty to a particular store? A paricular church? or even a marriage?

Lack of commitment is the culprit in today's world, not the publishers, printers, suppliers. WE HAVE TO BE THE ONES TO MAKE THE CHANGE. It HAS to start with me.

Philadelphia House

Find a strategic place where, believers and non-believers can pass by

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