Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hats Off to the Independent Christian Bookstores

A few weeks ago I went to my local Christian bookstore and realized it had closed. This made me sad even though I know many brick and mortar stores are closing, and not just Christian ones. I learned about Christian publishing when I was in high school and worked at an independent Christian bookstore in my hometown. This store closed many years ago due to the illness, rather than a lack of business. 

A few months ago I was in my hometown and visited two independent Christian bookstores within 30 minutes of each other, one in my hometown in Indiana and the other in a small town across the state border in Illinois.

One store I always visit when I go home is The Open Door Christian Bookstore. I consider it to be one of, if not the best independent Christian bookstore in the Midwest. It is in Terre Haute, Indiana, just off of Interstate 70. It is a beautiful store and they have recently added a snack and coffee shop. Their selection of books is wonderful. Whenever I ask about a certain type of book, they direct me to a specific title. When I check out, I am frequently told by the clerk that they have read the book I am purchasing. They are always kind and courteous. They hold many book signings and one of the most recent well-known authors they hosted was Beverly Lewis.

On the same trip I stumbled upon another store in Marshall, Illinois (on Michigan Avenue) called HeavenBound Christian Bookstore. I literally pulled into a parking lot to turn around and realized it was a Christian bookstore. I had to go in and check it out. It was small, but it was large on friendliness and small town charm. 

The owner saw me come in and didn't recognize me, so she shook my hand and introduced herself. She then walked me around the store to show the various products. She pointed out the used book section at the back of the store and offered to get me a chair so I could sit down and browse. She also apologized for some shelving that was not completed because her friend who was to finish it, had been ill, and she shared with me the details of that illness. I felt like I was part of the family. And yes, I did go out with a stack of books and I will visit the next time I am home.

So, writer friends, if passing through western Indiana and eastern Illinois, take a few minutes to stop and visit these two stores. Not only will you have a pleasant afternoon, but buy a book, not a difficult thing for us writers to do, and help support the independent Christian bookstores, that are alive and well in the heartland and small towns.

Do you have a favorite Christian bookstore that you patronize? What is special about it?