So today I went to my local Christian Bookstore (interesting modifier when you think about it) and was struck by several things. As soon as you walk into the space it becomes very apparent that I am not their target audience with the type of music playing, the decorations, etc. To give them credit it does seem like they are highlighting some resources that are more embraced by younger adults, although they may just be chasing the market.
Things got real interesting as I was checking out. In the immediate scope of things the elderly cashier was extremely friendly but not really trained well for her position. On a larger scale the business plan there seems to be woefully lacking and reminiscent of a church model that remains static in method, is confused why numbers are dwindling, and still expects people to simply show up.
- I was asked if I was a member of their “rewards” program, when I responded “no” the cashier immediately began to sign me up. As she took my information (perhaps they sell this to spam companies for additional revenue) she not only typed with her two fingers like my father-in-law does but paused to ask the other cashier how her day was going.
- Part of my “rewards” is the ability to get certain items for $5. Including a movie starring Joe Mantegna, you know Joey Zasa from The Godfather Part III. I sure hope Joe decided to star in a “Christian” movie (there’s that modifier again) because of an outflow of his relationship with Jesus Christ, but the cynical side of me suspects that he really likes money.
- I was then asked if I would be willing to give money to some few charities and other non-profit organizations. Now let me be clear I am employed by a non-profit, a good friend of mine is employed by the world’s largest NGO, and I wholeheartedly believe that generosity is much more life giving than scarcity. However when I am lamblasted with 5 different opportunities including but not limited to: peanut butter packs for kids in Haiti, a teddy bear for a local organization, and Bibles for troops; I am a bit overwhelmed.
Here’s the deal this bookstore needs to learn to say no. I understand that they are working with a niche audience that I think excludes a large number of Christians let alone non Christians. The path they are on is simply not sustainable, perhaps very similar to numerous churches who can relate. Get rid of the Jesus junk, the church “supplies” (again interesting word choice), the cheesy artwork, (un)clever T-Shirts, and reduce the number of books about the end times, the “gays”, and why Jesus would be an American by at least half; and you may have a chance.