Thursday, December 27, 2007

Attention Christian Shoppers

That thin facade of Christmas spirit where some only pretend it is better to give than to receive seems to have been fleeting. Today's newspapers tell the real story of the commercial Epiphany. There is an article on the tough choice for receivers between "regifting" crap you don't want or unloading it for cash on eBay. Another article proclaims the after-Christmas bargains for those who received cash or gift cards or were sly enough to wait for the many businesses trying to get rid of unsold Christmas merchandise so they can start stocking spring and summer goods. Kohl's opened early at 6 a. m. and stayed open until 11 p. m. to maximize income.

Be not dismayed, thou little flock, there are twelve days of Christmas
, and the number of shoppers also increases at Christian retailers in Northwest Arkansas during the extended Christmas shopping season. Bentonville's SKIA store, opened by California transplants Bill and Tina Beyer, stocks and sells Bibles and 5,000 religious books, more than 3,000 Christian-based music CDs, Christian apparel, including jeans, shorts, tops, jewelry, and accessories, and it has a trendy coffee shop with modern furniture and stacks of television screens as the main attraction of the 5,600-square-foot store in a strip mall at 3301 South Walton Boulevard. SKIA is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and even from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Christian commerce is good. The retail value of Christian products sold by member suppliers of the Association for Christian Retail reached $4.63 billion last year, but
Bill Beyer says his business is more ministry than store, and his employees often pray with customers. “We’re focused on God," he said, then added, "You’d probably have to go to California to find stuff like this.” The store's grand opening in May featured a skateboarding show by Hero Skateboards, a Christian Skateboard Ministry from Springfield, whose MySpace page says they have been called by God to "reach kids through skateboarding."

started a display of Christian art on skateboards in his store, and now Christian skateboards have become a popular product line, inspired by such popular entertainers as Saved Skaters Chrisian Skateboard Minisries. Regular customer Robin Johnson, said, “We’re very impressed they have Christian skateboards." She and her husband, Kevin, bought gifts for their students living at Cookson Hills Christian School and Children’s Home in Bentonville. They said they had too often found skateboards elsewhere with marijuana logos or similar designs. However, such ministries as King of Kings, one of a growing number of Christian evangelical groups, is "successfully using the skateboard not as Satan's plaything but as an instrument of the Lord."

Just don't try that skateboard witnessing in Hot Springs.

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