If I were to open a Christian Bookstore. Part V of V.

OUTLET STORE IN THE BACK

I’d be sure to have a factory outlet clearance section in the back of the store, recognizing that it could represent a significant part of my total revenue and of my net income.

Holding onto stale merchandise is bad economics.  It is also the kiss of death with my customers.  The Outlet Store would be my liquidation center, and enable me to keep the rest of the store stocked with  fresh product.

SUPPLIERS

I would hone in on the most established vendors of jewelry, children’s toys and books, gifts, and clothing recognizing that 20% of the suppliers cover 80% of what I need.  I would make personalized products a significant distinguishing factor.  I would not go head to head on product with any mass merchandiser.  Not every product would have to scream salvation.

I would price based on what I feel the market could bear.  In some cases I know I could purchase jewelry that would allow me to mark it up 500% while at the same time knowing other items I could only mark up 30% while staying competitive.

I would be as hard-nosed, yet cordial, with my vendors as Christ was with the moneychangers in the temple even if the two are unrelated.  I would be high-maintenance, asking for every discount conceivable, the best terms available, and free freight, and my vendors would respect me for it.

NETWORKING WITHIN THE INDUSTRY

I would network closely with other successful retailers in my industry provided they are not located within 100 miles of my store.

I would shop the Atlanta Gift Mart every January.  I’d walk it with a number of my associates (the ones that don’t have a store near me).  We’d break up the first day to cover as much of the show as possible, compare notes, and then work together for the next couple of days cutting purchase orders.

I’d attend the ICRS show held every July, primarily for networking and continuing education.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Whenever I travelled, I would keep an eye on the retail industry, observing trends in products and merchandising, making sure I was in the forefront of where the industry was going.

I would attempt to stay in top physical condition to best cope with the stress of owning and managing my own business.  I would be careful as to what I would ingest, and establish a structured exercise routine.

I would read, primarily through my RSS feeds, to keep myself informed of my industry and of the world around me.

Just as Wayne Gretzky was the greatest because he skated to where the puck was going, I would market to where my customer is going to be, not where he currently is.

I would set aside time each day for reading the Bible, prayer, and meditation, so I would not have to say, as did Solomon that “they have made me the keeper of vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept.”

Thanks for staying with me on this series.  I welcome your comments and observations!

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7 Responses to If I were to open a Christian Bookstore. Part V of V.

  1. Bob Kirk says:

    Peter, excellent capstone post for the series. An outlet store “in the back” presumes a certain type of location and physical access, does it not? If you’re in a mall or strip mall type of location “the back” might be a dirty alley with loading ramp access only… not rejecting the concept, but considering viability and implementation in different scenarios. At the end of the day, you’ve got me wanting to go start up a new venture, except that I’m already invested in a job/education combination that’s pretty much un-top-able. 🙂 Blessings, and thanks for the series. 🙂

  2. Ed Taylor says:

    Peter, this idea appears to be very well thought through and I believe you are in the right track. Retail is an extremely difficult place to be now much more than ever so you need the right category, right products, right location, and right atmosphere. Or should I say “perfect” not “right”.

    I have been wondering if the physical book category in on its death bed. Or will the electronic book take its share and there will still be many that want an actual book in their hands. There certainly are advantages with either. So, would the store offer both products? I would guess so. I didn’t read all your posts in detail, so perhaps you addressed this. Perhaps you could offer sample downloads of books to e-readers, etc. I also assume you will offer purchasing from your website and except returns at the physical store.

    Obviously purchasing on the web is growing and will always be with us, baring Armageddon, but people also want to be with other people and leave their homes. So making this place a gathering place with a compelling atmosphere is the key, in my humble opinion. Many of the prices may not be the lowest available for a particular product but people in the right mood will buy, at least something, just because they feel good.

    I am quite sure I would visit on occasion just to enjoy the atmosphere and there is always a time when you need something right now and can’t wait on shipping.

    • peter says:

      E-books will continue to be a growing category, and actually books a shrinking category – but my prediciton is that in our lifetime there will always be a significant demand for books.

      And I feel the same way about the independent retailer. There will always be room for the retailer that thinks outside the box, creates a destination, and makes shopping an experience.

      Thanks, again, for your thoughtful comments, Ed.

  3. Bob Kirk says:

    Speaking of ebooks, a new imprint which is from the beginning dedicated to publishing only in a digital format: http://kirkdalepress.com/

  4. Christina says:

    I know I am 2 years post-blog, but I have wanted to open a Christian Bookstore/GIFT store for over 10 years, and this year the door has opened up for me to do just that! Everything you have mentioned are things I have thought. I want my store to be an experience! I want to appeal to my area-which is VERY RURAL Mississippi. I want to offer faith-based “gift” items for cowboys, hunters, athletes, etc. It won’t just be Bibles, Precious Moments, and Willow Tree. It will be Bibles, devotionals, fiction and non-fiction books, CD’s, accompaniment tracks, tshirts, (we are all tshirt-aholics down here!), FAITH-BASED greeting cards, (all we have is Dollar General for that), a seating area with free coffee, a “kids” area, and lots and lots of geographically-relevant “gift” items. In addition, I am trying to look into the eBook download, and music download avenues for sales.

    We are an hour+ from Lifeway or Family Christian. And so many people around here, that I know personally, LOVE shopping at these two retailers. It only seems logical to me that a local Mom N Pop would do well here. Thank you so much for this!! God Bless!!

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