They’ve been around since 1959 and by 1995 became a superstore with a deli, a conference room, open mic on Thursday nights, and concerts on Friday nights. The patrons of Vercillo’s Catholic Store are familiar with the Christian book store just yards away from our door. We’ve been “sending them over” for the imprint and engraving services they offer and many a call has gone back and forth from their store and ours with “Do you have a (…)?” in order for both to better serve our patrons. But by 2001 the effects of the dot.com industry were being felt by all the physical retail businesses, including those providing goods and services to the Christian community.
This month, Dightman’s Bible Book Center is undergoing their second downsizing since 2002 while the local Petco is expanding – again. Sign of the times? It’s really a shame.
“Dightman’s truly is a treasure that this community values. Yet, in this time with Amazon and other internet sellers out to undercut brick and mortar stores, business is a challenge. Thousands of Christian stores have closed across the United States. Our book and gift vendors have downsized and consolidated and some have gone bankrupt. With the rise in the minimum wage in Tacoma, Dightman’s has been forced to run with a smaller staff and trim our opening and closing times. Our future lies in the faithfulness of our loyal customers. We need your continued business and we need our customers and the churches of Tacoma to continue to tell friends about Dightman’s. Word of mouth is the best advertising.” (From the About menu tab on their website.)
Christian bookstores have basically only two seasons, Christmas and Easter, and depend heavily on sales during those times to keep the doors open and the flame alive the rest of the year. Catholic stores are a bit better off having seasons all year long (Liturgical, RCIA, Advent, Lent, First Communion, Confirmation, Ordination, Wedding etc) with a short slow down period during the summer break after the last Ordination in June and before the new ‘Church year’ prep begins in August. We also have parishes that need to be supplied with altar bread and sacramental wine and other necessities ‘in season and out of season’.
The Catholic store also has an advantage because we offer items (Rosaries, Statues, Saint Medals, Missals, Prayer Books, ) that will be receiving the Priest’s blessing, becoming sacramentals; holy things, that are given the care and respect granted to blessed objects.
Many a grandmother has come in to get ‘just the right’ rosary for a granddaughter going off to college (the color and ‘feel’ of the bead are important); and a father picking up a St Michael medal for a son who has enlisted in the armed services (one with the Marine Corps emblem engraved on the back); or a sponsor thrilled to be selecting the perfect ‘Welcome Home’ gift for their RCIA candidate (something with the Holy Spirit symbol on it) – all items destined to receive the Priest’s blessing once they leave the shop – for it is in the Priest’s blessing that the items receive the power of the Holy Spirit to protect, to guide, to inspire. But even we are effected by ‘prime dot.com’ and the current societal need to have it first and have it fast.
Both the Christian book store and the Catholic book store provide a similar service to the community by making Christ visible in the market place. The presence of Jesus among us is diminished every time one closes. It would be more than a shame, it would be tragic if they all disappear from the public square.
The next time you hear about a great book, or someone recommends to you a Christian music CD album, or you have a wedding gift to buy, remember to call us first. If we don’t have it in stock, allow us to order it in for you. And, yes, we do ship. Remember us – your Christian and Catholic bookstores – in season and out of season – for all seasons.