Stay on top of new trends that grow your market.

The Bookery Parable Christian Store in Mansfield, Ohio, displays the trending farmhouse look.

New concepts and design ideas hit the market all the time. Vendors work hard to interpret new design and style trends to become the inspirational gifts and décor that add to a retailer’s bottom line. At the same time, suppliers watch trends carefully and try to anticipate the life cycle of a particular trend.

Trends in gifts and décor are very important. Retailers need to embrace trends to help their stores appear relevant in the eyes of consumers. Staying relevant means that retailers need to know what is selling now and stay open to new styles that may become the next big thing.

Sometimes retailers are hesitant to buy into new trends. An often-heard maxim is “My customers are older and more traditional and are slow to accept or won’t buy new concepts.” But since retailers know that discovering new customers is important to supporting a store’s future, it is a good idea to consider how gifts can be the bait that helps attract many kinds of customers.

So then the question becomes, “How do I slice up my gift dollar pie chart for both customers I have and customers I need?”


Remember bell curves from school? They graphically depict not only test scores but also how trends begin, escalate, and then begin to fall. Innovators start a trend that is then embraced by early adopters followed by early majority, the late majority, and finishes with the laggards.

Let’s use the farmhouse trend as an example. Joanna Gaines of Magnolia Home catapulted the trend of rustic, neutral, and nostalgic appeal into a broadly embraced style through her HGTV television show Fixer Upper. An early majority picked it up first in the South and then the trend spread throughout the country. It is very likely this style will last a while. Simple, casual décor has broad appeal across demographics and is easily interpreted into a variety of mediums.

On a trend bell curve, the early adopters who have seen the trend in other stores will want to see it in their Christian store, too. At least some of what a store buyer purchases should be to attract and keep the early adopter interested. At shows and markets, look for new gift concepts to prominently feature in storefronts and windows to attract this customer and promote these items well.

Early and Late Majority ride the peak of a trend knowing that these are items that make a store appear relevant and appealing to broader base customers. For example, farmhouse style is rising to its peak now. Not buying into this trend could send a wrong message to customers that your store is out of touch with the times. Christian retail needs to send a message that it is trend-aware and have relevant product options.

At the end of a trend, people want styles that others have already forgotten. These laggards will often wait until the end of a trend to buy on sale at a deep discount. Even these customers help a store’s bottom line because they purchase clearance items so more open-to-buy dollars are available to buy new things.


The bell curve may also help assign a dollar value to purchases for a store’s current and targeted customer base. Allow a portion of dollars for a new customer target that might like a new trend concept. Buy core products and store trending bestsellers for the existing base. Then look for value-priced products (vendor clearance products) as an enticement for the laggard discount shopper to drive traffic to the store.

No matter how the open-to-buy pie is sliced, retailers can have a purchasing plan with both new and existing customers in mind before venturing to shows and markets.


Banner Books Parable of St. Joseph, Michigan creates display around Fixer Upper appeal.

This summer, at UNITE 2018 July 8-11 in Nashville, Christian retail stores have an opportunity to not only see new design and style trends in action, but to win thousands of dollars in products that send their stores straight to the front of the merchandising bell curve.

The Gifts Ignited area offers not only examples and demonstrations of visual merchandising, but also will give away displays and free product to retailers in a free drawing at the end of convention.

CBA’s Retail Academy course, Ignite Your Gift Sales, demonstrates compelling merchandising that drives traffic and sales by engaging customers through design and experience to create store environments that customers want to visit over and over.

Creating new destination retail stores is part of new programs launching at UNITE 2018, including new product and financing programs from platinum sponsor, Inventory Solutions, which will bring new advantages for retailers to handle gift and specialty product with effective financing.

—Sherry Morris