Wednesday, August 02, 2006
What Would Jesus Sell?
This week in Denver Colorado there is a convention going on for retailers of “Christian” merchandise. Marc is feeling nauseous about this. So here is a synopsis of what the money changers will be offering this year. (From Celebrity Theatre)
The fake rose petals strewn across the tablecloth gave Milton Hobbs' booth a romantic aura. He stacked crystal-cut perfume flasks in a pyramid and set out pink candles tied with ribbon. The effect was almost sexy -- at least compared with the other booths at the International Christian Retail Show.
Hobbs liked it. He needed a striking display to call attention to his most unusual product.
"Christian perfume," he said. "It's a really, really new genre. We're the first.”
More than 400 vendors packed the Colorado Convention Center in July to showcase the latest accessories for the Christian lifestyle. There were acres of the predictable: books, CDs, greeting cards, inspirational artwork, stuffed animals wearing "Jesus Loves You" T-shirts. Many of the newest items, however, put a religious twist on unexpected products -- marketed as means to reach the unsuspecting and unsaved.
Manufactured by Top-Flite, the golf balls are printed with well-known verses from the Bible, such as John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son ..."). Dave Kruse, president of Revelation, said they were meant as "conversation starters," to help men share their faith while teeing up.
Michael McCarron has no time to contemplate capitulation.
Wearing a stars-and-stripes shirt and a harried look, the owner of Scripture Candy rushed about filling plates with samples of Christian chocolate for the more than 9,000 vendors and retailers who visited the five-day trade show. His company, based in Birmingham, Ala., sells an extensive line of candy packaged in little bags printed with Bible verses.
The candy is all top-quality, he said: "You can't put the word of God on something that someone will taste and go 'Blech!' and throw away."
Skin-tight, scoop-neck T-shirts for teenage girls bore slogans that practically begged those not in the know to ask questions. "Wood & nails -- a powerful partnership," one read. On another: "Life without you is not an option."
I know where you're coming from if you think it looks like we're merchandising or trivializing Christ, but this is a way to connect," said David Lingner, who developed the Christian Outdoorsman line, including a camouflage-print Bible cover.
"It's getting a little bit overboard," Cupps said. "It's faddish. If you can slap Jesus on it, it will sell."
I’m with you Ellie.