Kerusso is a business with a mission. Founded in 1987 by Vic Kennett with a $1,000 family loan, the word Kerusso comes from the New Testament Greek and translates into “preach.” The company’s product line reflects this faith-based viewpoint: it started as a T-shirt company specializing in Christian-themed apparel—it was an original practitioner of “T-shirt evangelism”—and gradually diversified into other products that all celebrate the message of Christianity.
“We started off creating T-shirts that proclaim the good news,” says Lorri Carter, vice president of creative. “We sell all Christian-themed products that share that message.” Today, Kerusso offers a complete line of products, including T-shirts and other apparel, caps, iPod and smartphone cases, flashlights, pocket knives, accessories, gifts, and more.
In the early days, Kerusso sold most of its products through Christian bookstores, later moving into a variety of retailers including truck stops, convenience stores, gift shops, boutiques and others. This early history taught Kerusso how to be an effective sales partner with its retail customers.
“Selling in bookstores really taught us how to display and sell merchandise,” Carter says. “Today, we have a lot of strong display solutions and have developed great visual ways of selling our products. We have a lot of great merchandising programs, so anything we sell, we can probably help you sell it.”
It would be a mistake to think of Kerusso as a niche company that would only do well in explicitly Christian-themed retail outlets. “We have found that retailers who don’t share our faith still often have customers who do,” Carter says. “The consumers who buy our product line are often very excited when they find us, because they didn’t even know anything like this existed. They become very strong customers.”
Kerusso recently introduced the Cherished Girl line of T-shirts that are designed to appeal specifically to boutiques and T-shirt shops. These will appeal to “girls of all ages,” according to the company.
How to Buy Products
Kerusso products can be ordered on the website or by phone. To qualify as a wholesale buyer, you need to have a federal tax ID number, or if you run a church or nonprofit, show proof of your tax exempt status.
Free shipping is available on orders of $250 or more, and the company will offer net terms on good credit. Terms vary (30, 60, or 90 days) depending on your credit. Most products are sold at 50 percent of MSRP, so retailers can generally expect a 100 percent mark-up.