The bookstore of the nation's largest megachurch was named the Church Bookstore of the Year.
Located inside best-selling author Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston, Texas, Lakewood Church Bookstore was honored for outstanding contributions in the development of Christian retail in the local church at the annual Gathering of Church Bookstores this past weekend.
Covering 9,960 square feet, the bookstore features 2,000 titles along with Bibles, gifts, jewelry, cards, toys and music and Joel Osteen Ministries products. A large-screen television broadcasts videos of Osteen's sermons and at the edge of the store is a giant aquarium next to 12 cushioned bamboo chairs.
Bookstore manager Ted Terry projects sales this year will reach $3.1 million compared to the more than $1 million a smaller Lakewood Church Bookstore generated last year before moving to the former Compaq Center.
Most of the sales traffic comes in the weekends when four worship services at Lakewood draw up to 40,000 attendants beginning Saturday night. Eight cash registers, plus 13 more at resource centers scattered around the church, help ring up the thousands of customers.
Employee Nancy Thomas says the bookstore is targeting the youth and the children more with a large youth section containing contemporary Christian CDs, magazines, and specialty Bible and a separate children's section.
Also catering to the diverse crowd that Lakewood draws each week – approximately one-third each white, black and Hispanic – the church bookstore features Spanish books, music and gifts.
The Gathering of Church Bookstores was launched two years ago to serve the growing church bookstore movement. It features training sessions, a panel discussion, worship and fellowship, and an exhibition day. Attendants also had the chance to meet more than a dozen writers during a gala author-signing evening at the Apr. 18-21 event.
Heidi Bodette, manager of Daily Bread Books at Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville, Minn., was named Church Bookstore Manager of the Year; DaySpring won Vendor of the Year and Jeff Miller, regional sales director for Thomas Nelson, was named Sales Representative of the Year.