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Another Store Closes, But Not Without a Final Word

Hero’s Lighthouse Books and Music in Smithers, British Columbia has closed after 40 years. This was left by Elaine Taylor as a comment on our last Amazon article, but it really needs to be seen by a wider audience. 

As we prepare to close the doors of this 40 year-old store, I find myself challenging our loyal customers to ask their online-shopping friends if they’d shop in a Christian bookstore that sold porn, witchcraft, etc, and if not, how can they justify using Am. And besides, do they have any idea how much of credit card companies’ profits come from online porn? (I’ve been told 50%) And, yes there certainly seems to be a double standard when a customer asks for a better price on my marginless stock then drives away in a pretty cool vehicle. Yes, it sounds a bit whiney, but I really don’t care now. I should have whined long ago, but I really doubt it would have changed anything. As they say, you don’t miss your water ’til your well runs dry.

Of course, I, too, am a hypocrite every time I order from Harper Collins or Ingram, because they, too, are purveyors of filth. I have my own justifications for using Ingram of late; Ingram, who we avoided for most of these years, being loyal to our Canadian suppliers: being in the northwest, freight from Ontario taking 10 days to 2.5 weeks and Cook & Foundation now costing about 15% freight (I don’t have the exact number in this computer); Cook’s website not being very useful for customer queries, forcing me to use Ingram to get enough info to order from Cook; Foundation’s being totally useless. There being no service for us after 2pm & 1:30pm respectively, while Ingram has customer service 24/7, and set freight rates, a west coast warehouse, 4-5-day delivery, and all those great things that come with 10 times the population. And it was the Canadian suppliers who decided their reps didn’t make enough traveling ‘way up here to justify sending them. That’s true. The 3 stores that were up north all were severely population deficient, and couldn’t buy like the city stores, & we actually were a bit too independent to accept most of their advice. But they still could have held me with a truly functional website. But was there ever a kinder, better sales rep than Peter Tiernay?

Buying group? 20 years ago, yes. Not now with publishers selling us out. 20 years ago I urged RG Mitchell to try to become the Spring Arbor equivalent, to simplify ordering for retailers, but working together is not what Christians do best, sad to say. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect the chains and Amazon have strangled bigger and better deals out of our publishers while the Mom & Pop stores pay the big bucks, & our customers see such a huge price difference they’re sure we’re ripping them off. Meanwhile month after month, year after year, we go home with no paycheque, until we face the reality that it will only get worse. We finally cut out losses, and close the door, with the loyal but too-few crying, “but what about us?!! What about the community? What about books & literacy, & thinking?” Can’t you re-invent yourself (again)? With what? Our big profits?

Ah, yes. Stewardship. Save a couple of dollars, lose your local stores. Get competitive! Right. And where do we shave off after paycheques, may I ask? And now the vultures are here, and I’m saying, no, that’s not on sale. It’s NEW. Get it while you can. Free freight. Touch it. Smell the ink. One more day and we’re done. 24 wonderful, frustrating years of dear friends in Christ, great books & music, two-way ministry: could there be a better job in all the world? We’ve had the best landlord in the world, the best bookkeeper, the best years of an industry that is about to do some reaping.

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  1. April 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Elaine, I already responded at length to your original posting of this as a comment, but just wanted to add that we wish you the best. There are some casualties of this industry that have a very specific type of knowledge that will be useful to everything from mission organizations to Christian schools to local Churches, and I hope that we can all find another place of service when our industry is but a memory.

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