Brothers Stephen and Ray Hendrickson, aged 19 and 14, were the sons of a pastor. They established Christian Book Distributors from their parents’ home way back in 1978 to sell Christian products, including Bibles, toys, games, home-schooling materials and church supplies. Their enterprise branched out into music in 1985, the first of many product line expansions.
The company operates from Peabody, Massachusetts, by mail order and online from premises occupying 300,000 square feet with the slogan “Everything Christian for less”. It now regards itself as the largest distributor of Christian resources in the whole, wide world and employs 600 people. There are more than 500,000 items in its inventory. It recently changed its name because so many people found it when they were looking for cannabidiol, the healthful, non-psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.
When signs read, “CBD sold here”, they mean something else
In a statement, the company lamented that people experienced “brand confusion” when they saw signs that read, “CBD sold here”. Once upon a time, the company would have been at the top when someone searched for “CBD” on Google. It’s now found much further down. The people typing “CBD” are after cannabis-infused sweets, beer, essential oils and medical treatments rather than Bibles and hymnbooks. Because “this wave of popularity over the ‘other CBD’ is not likely to subside”, Christian Book Distributors has changed its name to Christianbook.
Ray Hendrickson, who, along with his mother, is still involved with the company, groused to the New York Times that “It just kind of overwhelms our brand.” Someone might phone up and remark, “Hey, I’m looking for my order”, only for it to turn out that their order was for gummies; they had the wrong company.
It’s a good company
What is now known as Christianbook is well regarded: it received the Bizrate Circle of Excellence Platinum Award for 18 years running and was one of the Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work eight times. It makes extensive donations to charity.
The confusion might not be all bad
Kraig Fox, chief executive of the cannabis magazine High Times, pointed out that companies being found by people searching for something else might “not actually be a bad thing.” Some would, however, regard this as “unwanted attention.”
The “other” CBD
In contrast to the United States, the United Kingdom has never classified cannabidiol as illegal so long as it contains no THC. It can treat a number of medical conditions, as a variety of athletes and slebs will tell you. It has been estimated that the market for it in the United Kingdom will be worth almost a million quid a year by 2025.
Christianbook owns the domain name cbd.com and could one day profit heartily from selling it to a cannabidiol company. For the moment, Hendrickson declares, “It’s not for sale.”
Hendrickson also told the NYT of a time he was recently driving down the road with his mother, who observed a sign that read, “CBD sold here”, and he had to tell her: “No, mom. That’s not us.”