Potratz Selects New Leader of The Parable Group

After nearly five decades in Christian retailing and consumer marketing, Steve Potratz has selected a new leader for The Parable Group, the multi-service Christian marketing agency based in San Luis Obispo, CA. Effective August 1st, 2018, Greg Squires and Steve Potratz have entered into a definitive purchase agreement, where Squires will become the owner-operator for the business.

“I am thrilled to pass the torch to Greg,” said Potratz, founder and former president of The Parable Group. “When we began meeting over 5 years ago, I recognized he had the potential to be a leader in this industry. God has providentially been preparing Greg with his vocational experience in independent retail, brand and digital marketing, software technology, and agency management. He loves the church, cares deeply about the local retailer, and has a breadth of understanding of the digital landscape. He is undoubtedly the right person for this job.”

After earning an Industrial Engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Greg Squires served in a variety of roles including digital agency leadership, executive account management, and executive marketing responsibilities in retail and distribution technology companies. Notably, he spent 10 years serving independent retailers by implementing local product search and retail-integrated ecommerce solutions for manufacturers and retailers.

“Steve Potratz has built a remarkable company,” Squires says, “with talented staff who do exceptional work for clients who value the services offered. Steve leaves a legacy of innovation, having pioneered data-driven marketing programs in this industry for decades. I plan to build upon this legacy, to continue to serve our stores, vendors, and ministry partners—and provide fresh and measurable ways to connect with Christian audiences through direct mail, data intelligence, digital marketing, email and social media.

Potratz will remain in a support role with The Parable Group for years to come, providing advice to Squires as he takes on leadership of the company. Squires added, “I am fortunate to have Steve as a business mentor and friend. His industry insights and innovative ideas, coupled with my energy to execute, will offer clients and partners more value as we move forward.”

“Greg has spent the last 15 years searching for a Kingdom impact company to serve with,” said Potratz, “and he has found what he is looking for. Following recent conversations with retailers, I believe the future is bright for Christian retail. I’m delighted that Greg and The Parable Group team are poised to serve the industry for years to come.”

Get It Local. Today! Launching This September

After strong testing results to drive traffic and sales, the official launch of the web-based Christian store-supporting platform, Get It Local. Today! is slated for September 1, 2018. The platform offers shoppers receiving promotional emails from publishers—or shopping on publisher websites—the option of buying products at local Christian stores as an alternative to Amazon and big-box retailers.

Get It Local. Today! is free to retailers and publishers. The program is a cooperative effort among CBA, The Covenant Group, and The Parable Group, and is endorsed by the Logos Association, Bookstore Manager and Signature Websites.

Retailers can join hundreds of other indie stores to build out a strong nationwide and industry-wide network to provide buy-local opportunities and promote Christian stores.

More than 15 leading publishers have committed to post the Get It Local. Today! badge on their corporate websites and emails to help drive direct-to-consumer sales to local Christian stores. A handful of publishers, including HarperCollins Christian, Baker Publishing, and Barbour Publishing, participated in the successful testing phase by sending test emails to their customer lists.

“It has been tremendously helpful to share with prospective participant retailers that virtually every publisher we have spoken with has been overwhelmingly supportive and excited about this program.” said Chuck Wallington, president of Covenant Group. “On behalf of the several hundred Christian retail stores (and still growing weekly!) that now form the Get It Local. Today!  network, we appreciate all publisher support and look forward to creating customer interest and traffic and connecting your offerings with those in our local areas.”

It’s not too late for Christian retailers to enroll—many retailers signed up while attending UNITE following a push from CBA President Curtis Riskey during the “Future of the Industry” breakfast. Simply click here. It only takes about five minutes to include your store and get set up for data reporting to let customers know the product is in stock at your store.

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CBA, the Association for Christian Retail, is the global trade association for Christian-product providers and distributors. It supplies vital connections, information, education, and encouragement to help Christian resource providers reach all people.

Covenant Group provides a host of retail marketing services and promotional tools for leading independent Christian retailers.  Their offerings currently include both print and digital catalog programs, branded e-commerce websites, in-store merchandising materials and more.

The Parable Group is a privately owned multi-service Christian marketing agency based in San Luis Obispo, CA. Since 1985, we’ve served over 1,000 Christian brands; including retailers, publishers, churches, non-profits, film studios and more. Today, we pair decades of Christian consumer data with proven business practices, cutting-edge digital technologies, and thoughtful design to drive measurable results for those we serve.

Get It Local Today! In Final Testing

Get It Local Today! In Final Testing

Sally Ross

The Christian store-supporting platform Get It Local Today! is in the final testing phase with strong initial results. The platform offers shoppers receiving promotional emails from publishers, or shopping on publisher websites, the option of buying products at local Christian stores as an alternative to Amazon and big-box retailers.

Get It Local Today! is free to retailers and publishers. The program is a cooperative effort among CBA, The Covenant Group, and The Parable Group and is endorsed by the Logos Group, Bookstore Manager and Signature Websites.

Hundreds of Christian retailers are signed up to participate, and a group of 18 Christian retailers participated in a beta-test prior to Easter. The beta-test email, featuring Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior for $5, yielded positive results in both foot-traffic and sales.

Barry Berglund from Parables of Omaha said of the Get It Local Today! test, “We had a lot of customers come in—we had to order and then turn around and order again. We sold 16 units right out of the chute, and another 11 units since. We’re very happy with the results!”

In terms of sales, stores who participated in the Get It Local Today! test sold half their inventory of No Wonder They Call Him the Savior within two weeks; while stores not in the test sold only a third of their inventory during that same period.

Participating retailers are anxious for Get It Local Today! to officially launch.

Lorraine Valk of Parable Christian Store of St. Joseph (St. Joseph, Michigan) said, “I fully support the Get It Local Today! initiative and look forward to even more traffic coming into my store because customers know we have what they want. This is a prime example of ‘a rising tide raises all ships’—let’s drive those individuals to our stores!”

Leading publishers have verbally committed to post the Get It Local Today! widget on their corporate websites and emails to help drive direct-to-consumer sales to local Christian stores. The next phase in the roll-out and launch of the program is the sending of test emails by several publishers beginning mid-May. This final testing will include all stores enrolled in the program at that time and will provide feedback on a national level.

It’s not too late to enroll. It only takes about five minutes to give permission for your store to be listed and set up for data reporting to let customers know the product is in stock at your store.

Sign up now at:


Authors’ Love for Independent Bookstores

Authors’ Love for Independent Bookstores

Randy Ross

Authors love independent bookstores for some of the same reasons the rest of us do: you are hubs for community, your knowledgeable sales staff offer fantastic recommendations, and your physical spaces help us discover and celebrate the love of books. In our industry, bookstores offer even more—an opportunity to help others grow in Christ and share the gospel with others. The work is hard, but extremely gratifying.

These awesome Christian authors have spoken out about what bookstores mean to them:

A bookstore holds endless possibilities. Browsing a physical bookstore is the only real way to discover new books and new authors. Online searches can’t come close to the experience of seeing an intriguing cover and deciding to walk away with a new adventure.” ––Colleen Coble

I love books so bookstores are like a little piece of heaven for me! With the publishing and retail fields frequently changing, I’m especially grateful for Christian bookstores and the great books, products, and resources they carry. Whenever possible, I enjoy browsing in them and almost always find something that speaks to where I am in my relationship with God.” ––Dudley Delffs

Bookstores are magical places––stories of every shape and size are right there at your fingertips, ready to be explored!” ––Sarah Ladd

I know we live in a day where you can have a book delivered straight to your door overnight like we’re the Jetsons. But I still love a bookstore. I love to walk the aisles and look at all the various book covers. I love to see what the bookstore employees are recommending and what’s on the bestseller shelves. Reading has been a lifeline for me from as early as I can remember and spending time in a bookstore among all the words written by various people about an infinite amount of topics always feels a little bit like a warm return to a place I’ve dearly missed. It’s a little bit like coming home.” ––Melanie Shankle

For me, a trip to the bookstore is a silent escapade. My heart flutters at the unearthing of each new literary gem, and every page browsed is a chance encounter with a new friend.”  ––Cara Whitney

There’s nothing like stepping into a bookstore and realizing there are hundreds of worlds at your fingertips. Not one book at a time like you have to do on the internet. I love to stand with all those stories surrounding me, beckoning me to explore like a kid in mansion full of candy.  It’s a sensation unlike any other and it can only happen in a store. It’s like being home, you know? If you’re a lover of book you know exactly what I mean.” ––James Rubart

When I step into a bookstore, I’m transported to another world—actually, I’m transported into hundreds, even thousands. There’s nothing as harmonious, nothing as wondrous, as all of those worlds coming together to make ours more beautiful, one story at a time.” ––Lindsay Harrel

Book aisles are as dear to me as anything. They’re shelves lined with the most exquisite of art. In them is the pathway to be inspired. To be swept away, made new, and left craving more. The only thing comparable would be a library—except here, we get to take the stories home as a well-worn, much-loved, and permanent part of our family.” ––Kristy Cambron

Randy Ross - The Parable Group


Look for Your Monthly Data Statements

Look for Your Monthly Data Statements

Erik Ernstrom

If you’re one of the hundreds of stores transferring your data into CROSS:SCAN, the industry’s free data service, you received a Data Statement from us in your inbox last week. These monthly reports are designed to give you some encouragement (number of people you’ve served, how many Bibles you’ve sold, etc.), plus a few quick “to-do’s.”

As an example, one store might see that their employees are doing a great job adding new customers to their mailing list. This report would enable them to praise their staff for their hard work. However, this same store could also see room for improvement because less than 10% of those new customers supplied an email address. What a great teaching moment: “You’re doing a fantastic job increasing the size of our mailing list. This will enable us to stay in contact with all these customers with future mailings. However, we also need to be capturing their email addresses, so we can communicate with them more often than just once a month. And some people prefer emails. So, considering it’s the easiest time to get this information, let’s make sure to ask for their email address when adding them to the mailing list.”

Meanwhile, another store might take the list of top customers from the last 10 weeks and drop a note in the mail thanking them for supporting their store. I know of one store who makes it a point to call as many of these customers as they can to thank them and ask if there’s anything their staff can pray for. That’s something a big box won’t do!

Each one of you will probably take something different from these reports, including clicking through to ParableConnect to dive even deeper. We’d love to hear from you about how these reports are helping you, and how we might be able to serve you even better.

And as a reminder, there are three different reports that we send on a rolling three-month schedule: one focused on Marketing, one on Merchandising, and one for Operations. We rotate them, so you can learn about different aspects of your business each month. We know there’s a lot to do on a daily basis in your store, and we hope these reports and ParableConnect are giving you the tools you need to accomplish some of those things more easily.

If you need another copy of your report, or would like add additional employees to our distribution list, please contact me.