Common Word Bookstore Reinventing the Christian Retail Paradigm
The official announcement on the store’s website only tells part of the story:
On January 5, 2015 the Resource Centre and CMU’s Bookstore officially became CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre, a new collaboration between Mennonite Church Canada and Canadian Mennonite University. All of our collective resources – for sale, loan and download – remain available here and through our new physical location at 2299 Grant Avenue in Winnipeg. This merger with CMU Bookstore expands our services to include retail products, extended hours of operation and residence in a beautiful public venue. We look forward to continuing to serve you!
An article in the Winnipeg Free Press fills in more:
The common word at a new Christian bookstore and lending library in southwest Winnipeg might be co-operation. Or synergy. Or maybe even ecumenical.
“From the same counter, you can borrow, you can buy, you can ask questions,” explains Arlyn Friesen Epp, one of the managers of CommonWord, located on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University.
The bookstore-library [held] a grand opening… on Saturday, Feb. 7, just weeks after Friesen Epp moved his collection of 7,000 books and DVDs from the offices of Mennonite Church Canada to the new building at 2299 Grant Ave.
CommonWord is located inside Marpeck Commons, which also houses a coffee shop and the university library, and is linked to the southern part of the campus by a skywalk over Grant Avenue.
The not-for-profit venture combines an academic bookstore, giftware, fair-trade items such as coffee and olive oil from Ten Thousand Villages and a denominational resource centre of books, DVDs, online videos, podcasts and other electronic resources.
But the whole story? I sense this is something you’d need to experience to understand it. In many ways, it rewrites the playbook on what constitutes Christian resource retail…
And your store may have a Facebook page, but you probably don’t post this sort of thing very often:
But yes, there are books:
The Free Press article continues:
Materials from the lending library, owned and operated by Mennonite Church Canada, sit in the middle of the spacious store, with catalogue stickers indicating the items are for loan, not for sale. Borrowers from within the denomination access the materials for free, and other users can pay a yearly membership of $30 or one-time borrowing fee of $7.
The library section includes Anabaptist publications, as well as worship resources and educational materials.
With a visible location, and easy parking west of the building, Friesen Epp expects more walk-in customers of all denominational stripes coming to browse, borrow or buy.
The Anabaptist resources referred to are described as the “Largest curated collection of Anabaptist books and resources in Canada – for loan, sale and download.” The website boasts:
It doesn’t matter if you’re on Vancouver Island or in Petitcodiac, New Brunswick. You don’t have to be a pastor or church council chair. You don’t even have to be Mennonite. We think there’s something here for just about everybody.
We’re here for you – sifting and sorting, putting the best resources forward, available to personally respond to your query. Whether you’re planning a worship service, looking for a small group study or gift idea, or simply seeking personal inspiration, we’ll help point you in the right direction.
Buy, borrow, download, consult or link – it’s all easily done from this location.
The last word belongs to the university president as quoted in the Free Press article
The $14.4-million building, which opened for the winter semester, was designed to be a hub for university students and the broader community, says president Cheryl Pauls.
“We didn’t want to build only a library, but we wanted to build a public gathering place.”
Common Word Bookstore partners with Ten Thousand Villages
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