Thursday, August 15, 2013

Catholic Gift Stores See a (Papal) Bull Market

SOUTH CAROLINA---At the International Christian Retail Show in June, for example, attendance was down to 3,700 from a high of 15,000 in 1999. While sales were reportedly up from previous years, a growing number of stores had closed. Centuries ago, Roman Catholics helped kick-start the market for religious articles with their insatiable demand for rosaries, icons, prayer cards and all manner of devotional objects and spiritual souvenirs. But in recent decades, evangelical Protestants have dominated the art of religious retailing, building a national network of bookstores and stamping the Christian message on almost any item that an American consumer might want, from perfume to golf balls to flip-flops. Now, Catholic entrepreneurs are looking to catch up, and at the 17th annual Catholic Marketing Network trade show last week there was a sense that the Catholic sector has a new opportunity to expand — if businesses can update their approach and broaden their inventory beyond the usual catalog of sacred objects. [link]