Christian Retailing

REGIONAL REPORTS: Servant hearts in Hawaii; Small-store mentoring Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:50 AM America/New_York

Servant hearts in Hawaii

Display options are limited at the bookstore at New Hope Oahu—because it doesn't have any walls. The operation sets up under canvas each weekend for the five services held at a high school in Waikiki, Honolulu, on the surfing mecca island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Volunteers spend 90 minutes putting the store in place before it opens, arranging tables and wheeling out and opening a collection of a specially made sort of oversized flight cases. They are lined with slatwall and used to store products safely in a rear room at the school during the week.

With few frills of a typical store, the emphasis is on providing a limited range of resources to the 4,500 or so weekend visitors. Books and recorded messages by Wayne Cordeiro, founder and senior pastor of the New Hope network of churches, are a feature, along with Bibles and some music.

The store—set up under a large canvas awning outside the high school auditorium—carries some fiction, but limits other books mostly to titles being used for church study groups. It also offers a variety of New Hope-themed souvenir items, as the church is a popular destination for visitors.

“We try to focus on what will help the people,” said Manager Ray Oda. “If people are visiting for the first time, we want them to feel that God has led them to be there at this particular time for a reason.”

Oda's only requirement of prospective volunteers is “a heart to serve. We do have a lot of people come to the church who are hurting, so we just need people that have a heart to reach them.”

Small-store mentoring

Big help can come from small places, according to new bookstore proprietor Gloria Martinez, who credits an award-winning church store with helping her get going.

The Granger, Ind., woman opened La Nueava Jerusalem (The New Jerusalem) in the basement of her Catholic church to serve the Hispanic members of St. Adalbert's parish.

Key to the launch was the advice and input from Susan Chipman, director of retail services at Granger Community Church (GCG), in another part of the city, which last year was named Small Church Bookstore of the Year by The Church Bookstore magazine.

Asked to help by the Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind., Chipman helped scope out the best location for the new store and advised on inventory—mostly Spanish-language resources—and display.

With Chipman knowing little Spanish and Martinez not  understanding much English, the two communicated through interpreter Martha Smith, WEI director and a member at GCG. Chipman's advice was “a tremendous help,” Smith said.

“To put icing on the cake, Susan was present for the opening of the store, to make sure everything went smooth,” Smith added. “Needless to say, her help was a God-send to Gloria. What a blessing it was for her to have Susan as a mentor.” Said Chipman: “I loved the idea of being able to help another store.”