Posted in Opinion on February 24, 2014 6:07 pm EST

Eat, Shop, Pray

Insight on combining retail and worship









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TAGS: retail,


By Keith Loria

There was a time when doing retail inside a church was somewhat of a touchy subject. But today, growing consumer demand has resulted in an increase in worship facilities offering everything from books to cappuccino as they sell products that are helpful to people’s walks with God.

“As we have all heard the words in business, presentation is everything in making impressions,” says Victoria Brown, a leading consultant to churches and ministries, working out of Atlanta, and author of “Why My Ministry Not Growing?” which highlights the purposes of creating a business ministry in every church. “Retail space and design goes back to marketing and presentation. A successful design in space must meet the standard of attracting a particular population to want to be part of that space,” she adds.

Sometimes, churches simply roll out the six-foot folding tables into the lobby as a primary means of displaying merchandise. While it is great to see churches making use of its resources, the lobby banquet table does little to showcase the merchandise, provide functional amenities or create experience.

DNA & other factors

According to Danae Ledgerwood, studio director for Visioneering Studios based in Irvine, Calif., the graphics that illustrate the identity or “DNA” of a retail space inside a church are of chief importance. These “stores” not only need to appeal to the congregation, but to those in the community who may be walking by.

“Many of our favorite retail spots create an environment that creatively displays the merchandise but also creates an experience beyond the products,” Ledgerwood says. “Creative flexible displays, whether they are purchased pieces of furniture or custom-built millwork, are extremely important because [they] allow the church to rotate merchandise easily and frequently. Displays with lockable, self-contained storage space for merchandise are also beneficial for churches that have smaller retail spaces with limited back-of-house storage.”

Displays can also be used to help direct the flow of people through the space. Ambient lighting is important, first to highlight merchandise and second to create an environment that will encourage people to visit and linger.

“That gap between what’s retail and what’s church/worship appropriate is diminishing from an aesthetic perspective,” Ledgerwood says. “What is appropriate for both, from a functional and stewardship perspective, are low maintenance, high durability, and low cradle-to-grave lifecycles, such as products that are sustainably made and disposed of with high-recycled material content. Because many churches retain finishes in excess of 15 years, the maintenance and durability are a primary concern.”  continued >>