Thinking Inside the Box

So often the best ideas for growth and change are right in front of us waiting to be implemented.  For some reason, however, our human tendency is to see obstacles as insurmountable and to resist change at all costs.  Several years ago I was doing a training class for Christian retailers on potential events that they could implement in their stores to increase traffic and grow their ministries. (I consider all Christian retail stores to be ministries doing business).  At the end of the class, a women came up to me and thanked me for what I had shared and then went on to say that she wished she could do some of these things but simply did not have the time or energy.  While I empathized with her as I had often been tired and wishing there were more than 24 hours in a day, I had also discovered a secret.  I did not have to do everything myself.

In this age of needing to do more with less in order to have sustainable businesses and ministries, learning to utilize your visible resources to accomplish extraordinary things is more important than ever.  A friend of mine who I consider to be a mentor challenged me once when I was complaining about wanting to do some new things but did not have the time, money or people to make it happen.  He reminded me of the story of Moses who was asked by God to do miracles before Pharaoh.  When he asked God what he was going to do these miracles with, God told him to look at what he had in his hand.  The rod he has been using as a walking stick turned into a snake before his eyes.

This week, one of our bookstore teams did this very thing.  They recognized that July is a slow month and a time when we need to be creative to get people to come in.  They already had been participating in a national Wear It Wednesday Christian T-Shirt program to promote the wearing of “witness wear” all over the country on the same day.  In addition, this is a young and enthusiastic team who utilizes social media personally and wears lots of t-shirts themselves.   As a result they came up with the idea of hosting a Wear It Week in their store and engaging their customers in an innovative social media campaign.

What started out as a simple idea became a weeklong event that I will not soon forget.  After promoting the concept via e-blasts, posters, in store flyers and word of mouth they started the week by posting pictures of their customers who had bought t-shirts on Facebook.  These posts were highly relational and mentioned specific details of the people involved, why they bought the shirts and something unique about who they were.  What started out as a great idea to attract new customers into the store quickly evolved into a community building event that demonstrated the power of the personal touch and knowing your customers by name.

I was deeply impacted as I followed the growing activity on their Facebook page and saw that people from as far away a Russia were coming into our store to buy t-shirts who then discovered that we also had a store in Moscow.  Entire families came in and bought shirts for each member of the family and parents came in to buy shirts for their kids.  As the week came to a close, it became apparent that with some creative thinking inside the box of our four walls and a commitment to using what was in our hands, amazing things could happen.   To see more about what took place, be sure to like CLC Center City on Facebook.

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