Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts retailing giant based in Oklahoma City, has seen sales “exceeding our expectations” since adding Christian books and Bibles to its inventory in July, said the store’s book buyer Kevin McDonell.
The stores had sold a few Christian books over the years near its greeting card section, but the recent push puts many more religious titles in front of shoppers.
“We felt we could support these books, so we decided to try it,” said Kevin McDonell, book buyer for Hobby Lobby. “We put the top 100 bestsellers in our stores to see how our customers responded. The response is very positive.”
McDonell doesn’t forecast any sales increase at the chain’s 745 stores due to Family Christian Stores closing, and he is uncertain about whether shrinking Christian retail space around the country will impact Hobby Lobby sales.
“Our goal has never been to compete with Christian retail—our goal has been to make these resources available to our customers,” said McDonell.
Hobby Lobby positions the books at the front of the store, behind cashier stations. Titles include nonfiction bestsellers such as The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life by Joel Osteen (FaithWords, 2016), This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever by Rory Feek (Thomas Nelson, Feb.) and Between Heaven & the Real World: My Story by Steven Curtis Chapman (Revell, Mar.).
About 12 percent of SKUs are Bibles, and a few fiction titles are in stock, including authors such as Wm. Paul Young (The Shack, Windblown Media, 2007), and Francine Rivers (Redeeming Love, Multnomah, 1997). Inventory is updated monthly, with new titles added as they release.
“Books are chosen through publisher recommendations and by reviewing bestseller lists,” said McDonell. “Every Hobby Lobby store carries the same selection nationwide. We see it as a ministry opportunity.”