Bible Factory Outlet fills niche at shopping center

Friday, December 13, 2002

By Jill Bock

Special to Business Today

SIKESTON - "We have been so blessed," said Brenda Sorrells, manager of the Bible Factory Outlet about customer response to the store. "Business has been better than we ever dreamed of."

Sorrells said there may be several reasons for the popularity of the store, which opened this past summer at the Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores. The convenient location and advertising along Interstate 55 brings some customers, others are attracted by the discount prices, and some find the variety of merchandise to their liking.

And it could be the store's Christian-centered philosophy that many find appealing. "Our goal is to glorify God by distributing Bibles, literature and other products that minister to and inspire and encourage our customers," said Sorrells.

That inspiration can come from an assortment of merchandise filling the store, beginning with a variety of Bibles. Of course, there is the King James version, but those browsing the shelves will also find study Bibles, the New Living Translation Bible, the New International Bible, Bibles with large type and Bibles for children.

There are also shelves of best-sellers by popular Christian writers such as Max Lucado and Joyce Meyer.

It is here that browsers can choose from the many titles by Stormie Omartiaan, who wrote the "Power of Praying" along with several follow-up books.

But it isn't just reading material filling the store. Customers can find music, jewelry, gifts, software, pictures, doormats, flags, cards and other items with Christian themes.

The holidays are just around the corner and there are Christmas cards and ornaments. Nativity scenes can also be found at the Bible Factory Outlet.

"Our angels are really popular too, we have lots of different types," said Sorrells, pointing to several shelves.

But it isn't just adults who will find something at the store. A section set aside for children contains books and video tapes, including the popular "Veggie Tales" series.

Teens often stop at the racks of T-shirts and posters with Christian slogans.

Along one wall are tapes and DVDs by Christian musicians. Sorrells said the store's sound tracks of accompaniment music are popular with performers at area churches. "Those go like crazy," she noted.

Assisting Sorrells, who is from Sikeston, are four other local employees. Together they work to fill their customers' shopping needs and if it isn't already in the store, items can be special ordered.

Another service provided through the Bible Factory Outlet is spreading the word through their "Buy a Bible for a Soldier." Customers can pick out a Bible which is shipped to Fort Bragg along with a note of encouragement. Chaplains in the military then distribute the Bibles and the notes to the troops as needed.

Because the Bible Factory Outlet is a national chain (the Sikeston store was the 37th store opened by the company), Sorrells said it is able to buy in volume, earning a discount. This discount is passed on to customers, often as much as 75 percent off the retail price.

The store provides ministers with an additional 10 percent discount and there is a group tour discount as well.

Jill Bock is editor of the Standard Democrat in Sikeston.

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