Additional touches aimed to keep customers comfortable--and comingback--include a baby grand piano shadowed by a few chairs and anelectric fireplace and a nearby fountain with water cascading gently offthe branches of the copper rosebush at its center.

"We call this our `Rose of Sharon,"' said Kinder, referring to aflower cited in the Bible's Song of Solomon.

Even before it moved to its much larger facility, the PotomacAdventist store had been cited by Christian Retailing magazine for sevenyears as being the Christian store with top sales. Last year, salesreached about $7.8 million and Kinder expects them to exceed $10 millionthis year.

But not all the store's inventory is strictly Christian: about 47percent of the store's sales are for food and health-related products,Kinder estimates.

One-fifth of the sales floor is filled with about 12,000 food items,cookbooks, cooking supplies and natural health and beauty aids,reflecting the Seventh-day Adventist Church's focus on healthy living.Nuts, grains and vegetarian alternatives to meats, seafood and soup areoffered on shelves and in refrigerated and frozen sections. The ClintonWhite House used to order Boca Burgers, an alternative to hamburgersmade with soy protein, from the store.

"Our motto is we care for your mind, body and soul and we think thatthe three portions of the person are all interrelated," said Kinder,whose store closes early on Friday and all day on Saturday to observethe Adventists' Sabbath.

Extending that theme in a manner that mirrors secular megastores,the Potomac Adventist store will feature a small cafe where customerscan buy sandwiches and frozen fruit drinks.

"We'll be baking our own bread," Kinder said. "We'll have chickennuggets--vegetarian, of course."

While the Potomac Adventist store carries vegetarian products, otherChristian retailers--large and small--find other ways to bedistinctive.

Mardel, an Oklahoma City, Okla.-based chain with most of its 15stores exceeding 20,000 square feet, aims to provide local churches withoffice supplies.

"Churches have to buy copy paper somewhere," reasoned Jason Green,vice president of operations for the chain. "The bulk of our sales areChristian products."

Other smaller stores offer in-store concerts, free gift wrapping orhospital delivery of Christian products in lieu of flowers, saidAnderson of CBA.

G. Sean Fowlds, associate editor of Christian Retailing magazine,said some customers might feel overwhelmed by the choices in a Christianmegastore, but retailers that have gone this route seem to besuccessful.

"I honestly can't think of any example of anyone doing that and thenregretting it and having to downsize," he said. "Once they build theselarge stores they tend to just grow from there."

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