Send The Light Distribution has hired Randy Maricle as its vice president of key customers and clients. Maricle’s experience in Christian retailing includes running a Christian bookstore and working for the Parable Group out of San Luis Obispo, California, as sales and marketing manager. Maricle served as vice president of marketing and operations at Pureflix and most recently was managing partner of Lightworx Entertainment, a distributor of Christian and family-friendly movies and DVDs.
Glenn Bailey, president and CEO of STL, commented on Maricle’s hire.
“Randy is not your typical book industry executive, although he has been involved in the independent Christian retailing store owned by his family,” said Bailey. “Hiring Randy to this key position is a strong indication that Send The Light isn’t just the leading book, Bible and homeschool wholesaler, but we are investing heavily in non-book product like gifts, toys, movie ancillaries and clothing.”
In addition, Debra Lyons has been promoted from marketing manager to director of sales and marketing administration, a newly created position which will oversee the customer service and outbound sales departments, in addition to STL’s marketing vehicles.
“Debra has shown great understanding for the issues that impact small businesses, and has demonstrated a leadership that has produced very positive results,” said Bailey.
Finally, Mark Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing, received the call to go into full-time Christian ministry. He is leaving STL to go on staff at First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Georgia, as associate pastor of discipleship and administration. He has worked in the industry for 26 years.
VeggieTales Etch A Sketch
Send The Light Distribution has announced what will likely be a major new draw for kids and their parents, The VeggieTales Etch A Sketch.
Etch A Sketch Junior and Travel Doodle editions of the best-selling drawing toys will feature characters from the popular faith-based kid’s franchise, VeggieTales. The toys will be released in 2016, one in time for Easter. The VeggieTales Etch A Sketch model will retail for $19.99, while the Travel Doodle will retail for $17.99.
The forthcoming releases were announced at the 2015 International Christian Retail Show by Send The Light Distribution (STL), which will be the exclusive distributor to both Christian and select mainstream retail channels.
Greg Fritz, senior vice president for home entertainment and consumer products at VeggieTales' Big Idea Entertainment, celebrated the Etch A Sketch partnership.
"We are very happy to partner with such an iconic children's favorite in this way, particularly one that encourages creativity, discovery and expression," Fritz said.
The VeggieTales editions are announced as Etch A Sketch marks its 65th anniversary next month, with more than 100 million units sold by Ohio Art Company (OAC).
"It's especially nice for us to be able to reach this milestone with a major new opportunity to develop products that can help children positively develop through educational play," said OAC President Martin Killgallon.
The unique pairing is part of STL's ongoing efforts to expand offerings in the increasingly important faith-based children's retail market, and follows other recent exclusive licenses with VeggieTales and Etch A Sketch. Recent STL additions for the category include VeggieTales versions of classic games such as Toss Across and Memory Match from Cardinal Industries along with an extensive classroom décor assortment from CSS Industries.
"This is going to be a big draw in more ways than one," said Michael Turner, STL's director of product development. "We're delighted to be able to bring together two names that parents know and appreciate so highly. From early feedback, we are confident that this will be a big hit with consumers.”
VeggieTales and Melissa & Doug Toyline
Send The Light Distribution (STL) will debut an all-new VeggieTales line of interactive toys, games and immersive arts & crafts manufactured by Melissa & Doug in time for Easter 2016.
STL will be the exclusive distributor of the line to both Christian and general market retail channels. The arrangement is the latest in a series of strategic moves by STL to expand its selection of "pray and play" products that encourage children's educational and spiritual development at the same time.
"We're thrilled to announce this new groundbreaking initiative," said Michael Turner, STL's director of product development. "There's no question that faith-based resources for children is a growth area in the marketplace, and there is no better way to maximize that potential than by bringing together two of the undisputed leaders in the area."
VeggieTales has long been a Christian retail favorite, claiming the largest share of the children's market for many years and supporting the channel with exclusive product lines and DVD releases ahead of the general market. The brand has further extended its audience in the last year with the launch of VeggieTales' In the House, an original Netflix series.
Melissa & Doug, a leading company with an emphasis on classic-style toys and puzzles that nurture a child's development, came to Christian retail several years ago.
STL’s VeggieTales line from Melissa & Doug will debut with six items for the Easter 2016 selling season and will expand in time for Christmas that year.
Greg Fritz, senior vice president for home entertainment and consumer products for VeggieTales' Big Idea Entertainment, said the company was excited to be part of this partnership, having long wanted to work with Melissa & Doug.
"It really is a perfect combination, with each company bringing to the table what they do best: Big Idea’s content creation, Melissa & Doug’s product development and STL’s sales and distribution," he said.
At Melissa & Doug, major accounts executive Allison Narins said that the company was "delighted" to be part of the initiative. Since beginning to distribute to Christian retail, the company had seen how its vintage-style toys appeal to consumers appreciative of tradition and family values.
You & Me Forever Hits Sales Milestone
Send The Light Distribution (STL) is marking a significant milestone in its ministry-focused partnership with Francis Chan, author of the best-selling Crazy Love. The Bristol, Tennessee-based distributor has sold more than 140,000 units of You and Me Forever, which Chan penned with his wife, Lisa, with the twin goals of strengthening marriages and helping women and children at risk.
All proceeds from the sale of the book are going to overseas projects, with Chan's Crazy Love ministry seeking to raise $5 million to help build a village for women rescued from prostitution in Ethiopia.
Released in August 2014, You and Me Forevertakes a different approach to many other books on marriage, looking at a husband and wife's relationship in the light of eternity.
"The feedback has been pretty amazing," said Kevin Kim, executive director at Crazy Love. "It’s been very encouraging to hear how deeply people have been touched by the book."
As sole distributor for You and Me Forever—which recently reached the New York Timesbest-seller list—STL has been responsible for helping promote the book to and serve all physical and online retail channels carrying the title, which is available in hardcover and trade paperback editions.
With momentum building, a complementary workbook was released in March, and an iOS and Android app debuted in April. Including digital and audio editions of the book, the app includes highlighting and note-making features, and allows couples to share comments and thoughts about what they are reading with each other. In addition, a free PDF download of the book is available for those who cannot afford to buy a copy.
"We're thrilled at the success of the book so far, and are delighted to be part of such an important project," said Darren Henry, president of STL's Advocate Distribution Solutions division. "The Chans' vision to make a difference not only in readers' lives but also help others as a result is a natural fit with our focus at STL—for us 'Christian' is not a category of products we carry but our very reason for existing, to help distribute life-changing Christian resources."
Kim expressed appreciation for how STL had "worked hard in making sure this message is available to as many people as possible." So far $500,000 has been raised towards the village planned by Crisis Aid International, a U.S.-based relief organization working in Ethiopia.
"Any amount over that would go to other ministry projects that focus on serving the poor and getting the gospel to unreached places," said Kim.
New Program Targets Enhanced Christian Retailer Consumer Traffic
A new program has been launched to help Christian retailers tap more deeply into a niche that can drive customer traffic at a time when multichannel competition is luring more shoppers elsewhere.
Send the Light Distribution and Gifts With A Cause have produced special merchandising support to promote fair trade products not widely available online and which also amplify Christian stores’ ministry focus. The initiative builds on a partnership formed between the two last year.
Darren Henry, president of STL’s Advocate Distribution Solutions division, explained that while a growing number of Christian stores have embraced fair trade gifts that support artisans in other parts of the world, effectively displaying the lines well in-store has proved a challenge.
“They don’t always have a clear merchandising solution to the range of products that is available,” Henry said.
With that in mind, STL is introducing two different wire display options and a basket display that offer eye-catching presentations of the GWAC handmade catalog, which includes home decor, jewelry, scarves, purses, and other accessories.
The displays come with header cards that spotlight different parts of the world from which GWAC brings items. The new fair trade merchandising—free to retailers placing a qualifying order—debuts in May with a focus on Indonesia. The signage will be refreshed periodically, featuring artisans from different parts of the world.
Founded in 2007, GWAC imports from craftsmen and women in more than 20 countries. A member of the Fair Trade Federation, the San Diego, California-based company tags each item with information about its maker.
Co-founder Mark Fangue said the company is pleased to partner with STL, which has “taken steps to become a leader in educating and helping stores make the necessary changes to stay relevant and profitable in this evolving market.”
“Stores are needing to find a way to keep and attract more customers for products and services that they cannot purchase online,” Fangue said. “They also need to provide an interesting, educational, and inspirational experience for their customers. Fair Trade gift products are a proven way to engage Christian store customers in a simple way to make a difference with their purchasing power.”
With its support for people in the developing world, fair trade is a perfect fit for Christian stores. Christian stores are all about ministry, and this category is a tangible expression of that focus customers can appreciate and get behind,” Henry said.
But the section needs a higher profile.
“Without some greater focus, it’s easy to walk past a store’s fair trade collection and miss great products that are beautifully made, reasonably priced, and help make a difference in the world,” Henry said. “We believe our display options are an answer to that need.”
The new merchandising will be demonstrated at the International Christian Retailing Show in Orlando in late June and early July, when GWAC will be presenting its latest additions as part of the STL exhibition space.
“The more products that we sell, the more families we can assist to lift out of poverty,” said GWAC co-founder Liz Allen. Adding more staff overseas has enabled the company to produce more items, requiring better distribution. “Working with an established and forward-thinking distributor was the necessary next step for us,” she said.
Send The Light Launches New User Friendly Website
Send The Light Distribution (STL) rolled out a brand new design for its B2B site, stl-distribution.com, to better serve its customers. In 2014, STL received more than 6 million page views on its site but hopes with the new look and revision to many of its search features, traffic will grow even more.
“We’re very excited to bring these new and updated features to our website," said Mark Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing at STL. "We have listened to our customers' suggestions and input over the years and are pleased to have incorporated many of them to create a more user-friendly experience."
The biggest change STL has made to the site is the search function. Customers will notice that the search bar is no longer on the left side but has been moved to the top center of every page. The search engine also has been ungraded to better enhance searching on the site and also incorporates the Bible search. The result is a more seamless experience for customers, enabling them to quickly find what they need. Another feature many customers asked for is the ability for them to add products to the cart without having to leave the page they are on.
The overall design and look has changed along with a different background, color pallet and larger banners on the landing page giving it a fresher, more interactive look.
Send The Light Moves to New Warehouse
Send The Light Distribution (STL) has moved its warehouse in Elizabethton, Tennessee, to a new location in Bristol, Tennessee. STL transferred all content from the old warehouse to the new one Memorial Day weekend. The move required 205 tractor-trailer loads of 1.25 million units (65,000 SKUs) plus shelving, as well as additional truckloads of office furniture, records and IT equipment.
Company President Glenn Bailey said STL had a good reason to make the move.
"The lease on our warehouse in Elizabethton, Tennessee, expired," Bailey said. "A national logistics company came in and was willing to pay 65 percent more than we could to buy the building. Most companies have faced this kind of a challenge at some point. The difference is that we strive to meet this challenge over a long weekend with a minimal delay in customer shipments.”
“Racing to Bristol,” the theme for the move which was emblazoned on employees’ T-shirts, served to motivate them to push toward the finish line. The theme was appropriate as the new warehouse is just down the road from NASCAR’s famed Bristol Motor Speedway.
The move went on 24 hours a day for a total of 90 hours starting Friday afternoon and going nonstop through Tuesday morning. Labor was supplied by STL staff plus church groups, family and friends. Five church groups participated with a total of 100 volunteers raising tens of thousands of dollars for their churches and youth groups. Volunteers were kept energized by meals catered by employees.
On Sunday morning, Vice President of Information Technology Andrew Clyde led devotions, reading from Acts 16, an account of how Paul and Silas overcame adversity, which was something the movers felt they could identify with. The movers didn’t get imprisoned, but faced adversity from truckloads of shelving that collapsed while being transported, new fire alarms that incorrectly sensed problems and near-crashes that left vehicle contents in a tangled mess. The result of these events was that too much product wasn’t where it was expected to be. Of 65,000 actively stocked SKUs, 85 percent were exactly located during the Memorial Day weekend, and for the last eight shipping days, employees have chipped away at the remaining miscues, which now number less than 300.
“We had no choice but to move, but we apologize to all our customers that briefly experienced lesser service than they normally get from us," said Mark Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing. "We are not satisfied until every item is precisely located and every order is shipped as expected by our customers.”
STL purchases from over 500 vendors and ships to more than 10,000 locations with more than 90 percent of the orders shipping the same day and arriving in one, two or three days.
"Our primary customers are bricks-and-mortar retailers in North America, but we also send scores of containers of discount Bibles and books overseas through our Great Value Books division," Bailey said. "Our fastest-growing customers use the Internet as an additional showroom and our warehouse as their backroom."
Send The Light & Covenant Group Coordinate on Church Resource Marketing Program
Send The Light-Distribution & the Covenant Group Coordinate On Church Resource Marketing Program
Send The Light Distribution, a leading distributor of products serving Christian retail stores, and the Covenant Group, long noted for its creative marketing and promotional programs have launched a cooperative program to assist independent Christian retail stores as they seek to grow their church resource business, and serve their local churches more effectively.
Chuck Wallington, President of the Covenant Group stated, “This new program, entitled “Ignite”, will enable stores to ignite sales to churches by supplying them with an industry-leading annual church supplies catalog featuring more than 200 pages of resources especially geared to the needs of the local church. In addition, three supplemental seasonal flyers give the retailer a comprehensive and year-round program to stay in contact with the churches they serve. Best of all, stores can get all or part of the cost of these catalogs and the associated flyers completely offset with free product from Send The Light Distribution. Stores can literally have a turn-key program, at little or no final out-of-pocket cost!”
Mark Phillips, VP of Sales & Marketing for Send The Light-Distribution added, “This program will enable the retailers we serve to effectively communicate to the churches they serve that they have the products they need, and do so at virtually no cost to the retailer with the free goods offset. We are excited to work with Covenant Group to provide their excellent and proven marketing materials to our customers, especially coupled with this unique offer that reimburses the store for most or all of their costs.”
Ignite is an innovative program that allows retailers to receive a starter package of the 2015-2016 Church Supplies Catalog (published in late August, 2015), and an identical quantity of each of the three seasonal church resource flyers for a set fee. The fee is then completely offset with a free allotment of the Lumen Disposable Communion Cups that the retailer receives as reimbursement of the program cost. For more information, retailers can contact their Send The Light Distribution telephone sales representative at 800-289-2772. This special offer will remain in place through April 30, 2015.
For over 30 years, Covenant Group has provided an array of marketing and promotional services to independent Christian retailers of all sizes, including print and digital catalogs and flyers, in-store promotional aids, digital marketing services, and a burgeoning branded website network; all that allow retailers to both serve and inform the consumers and churches they serve with state-of-the-art tools and resources.
For more information contact Ed Barber Ed.Barber@stl-distribution.com
Send The Light: The largest one-stop distributor of Bibles, gifts, Church supplies, toys, books, Homeschool and more has been in business for over 40 years.
Send The Light Appoints New Markets Director
SEND THE LIGHT APPOINTS NEW MARKETS DIRECTOR
Michael Turner to help Send the Light Distribution expand children's toy offerings
Elizabethton, Tenn.: Send the Light Distribution has appointed Michael Turner as its first Director of New Market Development, to help Christian retail stores find and maximize new revenue streams.
Turner joins the leading Christian resources distributor after nine years with New Day Christian Distributors, where he was responsible for securing exclusive distribution rights for Duck Commander products, and introducing general market novelties like silly bands and companies like Melissa and Doug to the Christian retail channel.
His new Send the Light Distribution position is part of the company’s increased emphasis on gifts and particularly children's toys, to help Christian stores expand their inventory in line with their focus on faith and family values.
“We have always carried gifts, but we really made a more serious thrust in this area 18 months ago, since when we have seen 40 percent growth in the category,” said Mark Phillips, Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “We have created this new position specifically for Michael, who is well known and respected in the industry.”
Turner said that he was “delighted” to join Send the Light Distribution, and help find new toy brands and lines that can support both Christian stores' financial and ministry goals. “With moms, grandmothers, and aunts among the primary shoppers at Christian retail, these stores are more in line with the toy companies that anyone else,” he said.
General market toy suppliers were also open to developing Christian-themed products, if they saw the market potential through sales of other products. “Not everything has to have a cross on it,” said Turner. “As a family, we go to church, but we also buy regular books and toys, too.”
Turner will remain in Nashville, where he has been involved with Christian resources for more than 20 years. Prior to joining New Day, he worked in the music industry where his clients included Gary Chapman, and Bill and Gloria Gaither. Aged 47, Turner and his wife, Elizabeth, have two children.
Turner's first addition to Send the Light Distribution's exclusive inventory is Begin Again Toys. The Fort Collins, Colo.-based company produces puzzles, toys, and games intended to help children play and learn
Based in Elizabethton, Tenn., Send the Light Distribution is currently marking its 40th anniversary of service to bookstores, churches, ministries, and suppliers.
Send The Light Partners with World Vision
Send The Light Distribution has partnered with World Vision to create a program to equip you, the Christian independent retailer, to invite and engage customers with child sponsorship opportunities and earn significant revenue in the process. Here is how the program works in 3 easy steps:
1. After signing a simple retail agreement with World Vision, which is attached, and e-mailing/mailing it back to your phone rep, you the retailer agree to take posters, a pop-up display, prayer cards, buttons and 25 child sponsorship folders/envelopes free of charge to place in your store to promote child sponsorship.
2. Your customer may take a child sponsorship folder once they have decided to sponsor a child, fill this in and then return it to you. You would then send in the customer’s information form and the child’s folder in a postage paid envelope to the World Vision office.
3. Once World Vision confirms the sponsorship, STL will be notified and pays you $100 in the form of a store credit for every confirmed child sponsorship. Just one sponsorship a week would mean $5,200 a year in profit to your store, two a week average is over $10,000.
Mike Gillespie, former District Manager with Family Christian Stores says “I have seen countless times the power of child sponsorship with strengthening the relationships of customers in all the 18 stores I managed, resulting in rich conversations, more loyal customers and an overall high level of appreciation. So many times customers have commented on their genuine thankfulness of the retailer informing them about WV child sponsorship and what a blessing this has been in their own family.”
Please join Send The Light in helping improve children’s lives and impacting them with the life-changing message of the gospel by participating in this important initiative. For more information please contact your area phone rep at Send The Light. 800-289-2772
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