Geometry Lessons From a Five-Year-Old

May 18, 2007

Andrew: “A diamond is a square turned sideways. No, maybe upside down.”

Reasons To Believe – New Scott Hahn Book

May 17, 2007

Reasons to Believe by Scott Hahn

This book unravels mysteries, corrects misunderstandings, and offers thoughtful, straightforward responses to common objections about the Catholic faith.

Bestselling author Scott Hahn, a convert to Catholicism, has experienced the doubts that so often drive discussions about God and the Church. In the years before his conversion, he was first a nonbeliever and then an anti-Catholic clergyman.

In REASONS TO BELIEVE, he explains the “how and why” of the Catholic faith—drawing from Scripture, his own struggles and those of other converts, as well as from everyday life and even natural science. Hahn shows that reason and revelation, nature and the supernatural, are not opposed to one another; rather they offer complementary evidence that God exists. But He doesn’t merely exist. He is someone, and He has a personality, a personal style, that is discernible and knowable. Hahn leads readers to see that God created the universe with a purpose and a form—a form that can be found in the Book of Genesis and that is there when we view the natural world through a microscope, through a telescope, or through our contact lenses.

At the heart of the book is Hahn’s examination of the ten “keys to the kingdom”—the characteristics of the Church clearly evident in the Scriptures. As the story of creation discloses, the world is a house that has a Father, a palace where the king is really present. God created the cosmos to be a kingdom, and that kingdom is the universal Church, fully revealed by Jesus Christ.

Praise for Scott Hahn’s Reasons to Believe:

“A flagship volume for contemporary apologetics.  This book should be required reading for every Catholic college student and especially for every priest, seminarian, and deacon.  This is apologetics made fascinating.”  —Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR

“An outstanding book.” —Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. (Denver Archdiocese)

“The definitive book on the subject of apologetics.” —Marcus Grodi, TV host, The Journey Home

10 Things to Know About Your Customers

May 17, 2007

While this is directed specifically at Catholics, having this (or equivalent) information about your customers is essential to long term success in your business.

1) Name – Customers that you can greet by name are far more likely to feel welcome in your store and will buy more because you have taken the time to remember who the person is. This works on the phone too. Get the customer’s as soon as possible when they call so you can use it while you talk to them.

Also, if you keep a customer’s name in your system you can actually figure out statistics on your customers.

2) Mailing address – if you ever want to let your customer base know about events at your store having a mailing address is essential. Also, if you want to figure out where your customer base lives (are people only coming from a specific area or do they drive all the way across town?) in order to expand your marketing appropriately, this is kind of critical.

3) Email – quick, free mass promotion. If you have some kind of rewards program in your store (we have a Faithful Shopper program with punch cards) that requires an email address, people are much more likely to give it than if you just ask.

4) Parish membership – knowing where your customers come from is essential to knowing if your bulletin ads work. You should make all of your print ads coupons so that you can track sales from the ads. If you can’t track your advertising, you are throwing away your money.

5) Lay organization membership – if you know that a specific customer is a member of the Serra Club, you can recommend the latest book on vocations to that person knowing that you have a pretty good chance of getting a sale. If you know that the shopper is the diocesan head of Social Services, you can recommend the new Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching. If you don’t know these things, you can’t make informed recommendations that might lead to extra sales.

6) Customer interests – is your customer really into apologetics? Does your customer have a special devotion to St. Gianna? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say “Hi Dave, we just got in a great new book on answering Fundamentalist attacks on Mary, would you like to see it?”

7) Customer concerns – if a customer says on one visit that her dad is in the hospital, wouldn’t she appreciate being asked how dad is doing the next time she comes in?

8 ) Top customers – customers love being thanked for their business. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send a special gift to your best customers each year? We sent candy gift boxes with thank you notes to our top ten customers and best vendors last Thanksgiving. You would not believe the response we received.

9) Who do your customers know or work for – wouldn’t it be a good thing to know that a particular customer is the parish secretary for a parish that you have been trying to get to notice you? Why not give her a special item to pass on to the pastor?

10) Why do your customers buy (or not buy) from you – knowing this will tell you if your business has a visible mission and also if there are things that your business needs to work on.

Related Posts:
Why do your customers shop with you?

Why Do Your Customers Shop With You?

May 17, 2007

As a store owner, one of the most important pieces of information you can have is the reasons your customers shop at your store. If you can give an answer that isn’t your personal opinion but an actual survey of your customers, you are ahead of the curve.

If all you have is a guess, then you are projecting your own preferences on your customers and may be completely wrong. This is a really bad way to run a business. If you don’t know why your customers shop with you, you can’t emphasize those reasons and may end up inadvertently doing something to change your customers’ opinion of your store.

I recommend asking your customers to fill out a simple, one page survey at the counter while they are waiting in line. You can give them a free holy card for filling it out.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  1. Do you prefer our store above all other places in town to buy Catholic gifts? Why or why not?
  2. Do you buy Catholic products on-line? If so, do you buy them from our website? (If you don’t have a website, get one.)
  3. Do you recommend our store to other people? Why or why not?
  4. What one thing do you wish we carried that we don’t?
  5. If you could design the “perfect” Catholic store, describe what it would be like.

From these five questions you can find out:

1) If your customers actually come to your store on purpose.
2) Whether or not you are losing sales to stores that have websites.
3) Whether or not your customers will risk their reputation by recommending your store to others.
4) What you should be carrying but don’t.
5) What you should be planning for for the future.

If your customers don’t shop at you for a reason other than convenience, buy Catholic things online from other businesses and don’t recommend you to friends, you have some problems that need to be fixed quickly.

First, you have to have an identity that extends beyond being “that Catholic store downtown”. If that’s all you have, someone who has a concrete mission and some initiative can take away your business very quickly.

Second, if your customers won’t recommend your store to others, you are going to have a very hard time increasing your business. Getting your customers excited about your store requires taking care of the first issue as well as focusing on customer service and making your store a place that people don’t feel grubby walking into. Keep the store clean, well lit and organized with clearly labeled sections.

Third, you really need to get a website. You may not personally shop on-line and many of your customers may not shop on-line but if you want to cater towards younger Catholics you are going to have to have a web presence. You can have someone do it for you, you can let us take care of the lion’s share of the work or you can hope that younger Catholics will always drive down to your store instead of buying stuff on-line.

Related posts:
What is your quest?
10 Tips for improving your Catholic store

A great Father’s Day gift idea!

May 16, 2007

We’re carrying a new line of men’s apparel from a Catholic-owned company called Lionheart.

Here’s a reprint of an article about the founder of Lionheart which ran in the April 22 issue of the Our Sunday Visitor newsweekly – it’s very inspiring – we hope you enjoy reading it:

 Article by Gina Giambrone – 

Mingling faith with success

Tarek Saab offers young men a way to share faith without words

When Donald Trump “fired” Tarek Saab during season five of “The Apprentice,” it wasn’t the end for Saab. It was only the beginning.

Since his time as a popular contestant on the 2006 season, the 28-year-old has become the CEO and co-founder of Lionheart Apparel, a clothing line for Christian men; authored the forthcoming book “Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work and Manhood in your Twenties” (Spence); initiated a successful speaking career; and began his life’s vocation when he married his wife, Kathryn, last May.

Yet in the midst of all of his successes, Saab manages to keep his primary focus on his faith.

“What is worth embracing more than your faith? A family member? A career? A car? All those things are important in their own way, but they are transient. Unless we focus on the eternal, it will ultimately profit us nothing,” Saab told Our Sunday Visitor.

“Personally, I am certain there is life after death, in the same way that I am certain that there is no life without God, so I would be unwise to do anything but make my faith the No. 1 priority in my life,” he added.

Giving men a role

But faith was not always on the forefront of Saab’s mind. While he was born and raised a Maronite Catholic, during his college years he experienced a period of spiritual disillusionment.

“Upon graduating, I was blessed to receive everything I wanted in life in a short period of time before realizing that none of those things — money, a nice car, a great job — made me happy,” he said. “In the search for happiness, I found my way back to the Catholic faith.”

Now Saab is dedicated to helping others, especially Catholic men in their 20s, find fulfillment in their faith as well. His work with Lionheart Apparel, which donates 10 percent of all profits to pro-life causes, is connected to this mission.

“Although a person is defined by their actions, we believe a person’s choice in clothing can make a statement, and our mission is to provide men with a way to declare their Christian beliefs to the world without saying a word,” he said. “Similar to sporting the jersey of a favorite athlete, our clothing line encourages men to identify with Christian role models throughout history.”

These three things

Saab also encourages Catholics to strengthen their faith through focusing on three things: prayer, the sacraments and spiritual education.

“If there is a deficiency in any of those three areas, then there really is no balance at all,” he said.

In his own life, Saab can attest to the power of prayer and the sacraments, which helped him discern his vocation. He and his wife first encountered one another at daily Mass and were married nine months after meeting. Now, as Saab declares boldly on his ultra-hip website (, he and Kathryn hope to be blessed with “many, many children.”

While he had always wanted to be a husband and father of a large family, at age 26 Saab saw no prospects on the horizon. But he did not give up hope that God had a plan for his life.

“At that time I prayed fervently and wondered if God had different plans in mind,” he recalled. “As a Catholic man, I felt I had a duty to explore the possibility of the priesthood, and so I prayed for my vocation. Two months later I met my wife, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

With a history like his, the future looks bright.

Gina Giambrone, now Gina Loehr,  writes from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She is a speaker and freelance writer.

To view our complete selection of Tarek’s apparel line, click here.


Homer Simpson Would Be Proud

May 15, 2007

Annie (age 4) after dinner tonight: “I want some beer toys.”

When asked to elaborate: “Bottles of beer. But not real ones.”

So…If I get her O’Doule’s, does that count?

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 13, 2007

To my Mom, who has been a constant support and model all my life and an unwavering believer in our business.

To my wife, who has loved and cared for our family for over ten years.

To my mother-in-law, who gave me such a wonderful wife.

To my Nana, who has given me so many wonderful Christmas memories of the joys of a large family and delicious Mexican food.

To my Grandma, who was the best seamstress I know and made wonderful desserts. I miss you.

To my Godmother, who I don’t get to see often enough.

To our team members, Aline and Deb, who believe in our company vision and are in my prayers today.