What Would Entice You into Your Local Catholic Bookstore?


Catholic BookstoreI am working on a presentation that will be given in a few weeks to a group of many folks interested in serving Catholics. Among them will be owners of religious bookstores.

These men and women serve in a very special mission field. Often, they are on the front lines of the New Evangelization — answering questions, clarifying misconceptions, and simply being a listening ear for folks who have faith issues. I’ve met more than one person who was drawn into full Communion with the Church via their local Catholic bookstore.

But these Catholic bookstores also face many challenges. In an “on demand” age when many of us are more likely to hit Amazon for our quick book fixes, some of these retailers/evangelizers are struggling to keep their stores open.

So today, I’d like to hear from you on a few questions:

1. If you shop at a local Catholic retail store, why do you choose to do so?

2. If you don’t, what could your local Catholic retail store do to entire you in the door?

3. What would you like to see happening at your local Catholic bookstore? Speakers, concerts, prayer meetings, bible studies? If they offered these, would you attend?

4. What was the last item you purchased at a Catholic bookstore?

Thanks, in advance, for sharing your insights on these questions!

Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey



About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at LisaHendey.com or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Find Lisa’s books on her Amazon author page.


  1. -The Catholic Bookstore is my “comfort food”. When I’m down or stressed, I go there and surround myself with all those beautiful reminders of God’s goodness. I like to shop there because I can flip through a book, see it, feel it, smell it. I can look at others that I don’t intend to buy but maybe later can recommend them to others. I like to support those who take a business risk and place their trust in God.
    -My bookstores are so far from me that I probably wouldn’t attend events unless there were national speakers.
    -I last purchased a book about internet addiction and Catholics.

      • Trinity House in Overland Park, KS and I. Donnelly in Kansas City, MO. Always drop in Gloria Deo in Lincoln, NE when I get up that way. It’s the best Catholic bookstore I have ever seen.

      • Another thing… If Catholic bookstores could go OUT into the community, they would help themselves. Offer to sell their items after Mass at a discounted price as a fundraiser for the parish. Good PR. Raises awareness. And for those who cannot get to the store, it would be a service. The larger parishes often have their own little stores, but many parishes don’t.

  2. I love Catholic bookstores! What would get me into one? Having one in my community. They’re few and far here, and I have to travel at least 45 minutes to find one. I think one thing such bookstores might do to increase their traffic is reach out to parents. It seems like most parents don’t know anything about the array of materials available for young kids, for example. If someone showcased this work after a Mass at my parish (which has a *huge* population of families with small kids), I think many would be enticed to visit the bookstore often. Not surprisingly, the last items I’ve purchased through a Catholic bookstore were for my little ones — Cat Chat CD’s, holy cards, picture books on saints, the rosary, and the sacraments… I’d love it if speakers were offered via Catholic bookstores, as well!

  3. Honestly, the Catholic store in Pittsburgh (where we use to live)wasn’t bookstore enough for me. I liked the selection of fontani statues there but since moving to Greenville, SC I am way more impressed by the Catholic bookstore here. It actually has newer books, a nice kids section that I already have Christmas and Easter presents in mind from, and an awesome rental Catholic movie section, we just rented There Be Dragons two days ago. All we have to do is return it within two weeks and it’s free. I love it.

  4. To entice me the store would have to be on Main Street or thereabouts in my town. The closest Catholic book store for me is over 20 miles away and to get there I must navigate winding foothill roads.
    I really don’t care to go to a bookstore for anything except to browse books and buy them. Speakers and so forth would not draw me.
    Generally I find what I want on Amazon, and I use my reward points. I haven’t paid cash for a book for years.

  5. I actually prefer to go into the bookstore to get it…I don’t like waiting for it to come in the mail. The problem I’ve had though is that I’ll hear about a new book coming out that I want…and when I go to the Catholic bookstore, they don’t always have a lot of the new releases. We also have one catholic bookstore that really doesn’t have the greatest selection of books. But, provided they have what I need….I’d rather run down to the store for it.

  6. I support local Catholic bookstores when I can, and when it is reasonable to do so. But I am not going to go so far out of my way to do it. Here are some ways bookstores can reach customers or make the shopping experiences easier/more rewarding.

    (1) Make catalogue available online so I know what I can find in-store – It would make my shopping experience easier if catholic store websites had full information of books available in store with previews (particularly children’s books). I don’t buy children’s religious books online or in store unless I can thoroughly preview the content beforehand so as to ensure good theology or age-appropriateness.

    (2) Don’t “Just have a website”; Make it useful and up-to-date in terms of content and technology – If you cannot offer an online store as well as a brick and mortar presence – why not sell some of your inventory on Amazon so as to serve as a online showcase of what you can offer in-store? This is also an option if a domain-specific online shop isn’t a business option for them.

    (3) In-store offerings – (a) make it family friendly with area for kids too enjoy your offerings for them, (b) have authors or other special events like book signings or book discussions – certain archdiocesan offices could help/partner with this too. (c) Have competitive pricing – I am willing to pay a little more to support a local business but understandably we have to be good steward of our funds too. (d) have GOOD and relevant communications/newsletters for members reminding customers of Catholic events like communion/graduation seasons, Mary May Crowning, ordination gifts, Lenten and Advent preparedness books/family items (e) offer memberships or discounts (f) have light refreshments and treats like cookies and coffee/cider or water available for customers.

  7. Sr. Margaret Kerry, fsp on

    Your presentation should be interesting! I managed and worked in Pauline Books & Media bookstores for 23 years – since 1978. So much has changed. I was also director of our PB&M stores for four years (2004-2008). At that time I introduced (where I could) warm colors, seating, coffee/tea services, the language of retail. As a publisher with book stores we have unique offerings. The web store (www.pauline.org) became important for our customers so we launched it a few years ago. Some customers do like to browse before they purchase books, others know what they are looking for because they have seen book reviews. Word of mouth has always been the best promotion. When we had book stores back in the 40s-50s they were few and far between. in the 80s the B&N, Borders and up and coming Amazon started a whole new trend. Remember the movie “You’ve Got Mail”? A parable of what was happening to bookstores. We had to find our niche (Catholic, trusted,mom approved) and go with those book choices. Well chosen religious art enhances the experience of a Catholic environment. For us the “center” is an icon of Jesus Way, Truth & Life: http://www.slideshare.net/MargaretKerry/at-the-center-is-jesus

  8. It’s easier for me if I post the original questions too!
    1. If you shop at a local Catholic retail store, why do you choose to do so?
    I am a huge supporter of local business. I always try and choose local business before box stores. I also really love the lady who own’s the one I used to go to and it was in our historic area which I tended to go to shop often anyhow. (SWe just moved)

    2. If you don’t, what could your local Catholic retail store do to entire you in the door?
    A nice window is all it takes for me, wouldn’t matter what kind of store it was if they have a enticing window display.

    3. What would you like to see happening at your local Catholic bookstore? Speakers, concerts, prayer meetings, bible studies? If they offered these, would you attend?
    Oh bible studies, or women’s group meeting would be great. Sales are always a bringer of people. I am sure guest speakers would be fun!

    4. What was the last item you purchased at a Catholic bookstore?
    My husband makes rosary’s and we needed medals. I also am still in the process of becoming Catholic so we were looking at bible’s for me. She was so sweet and friendly that we went back over and over again. She also has a wonderful collection of housewares, and gifts.

    I saw you asked someone else so I will answer. The store is called Windows of Heaven and it’s a very small store in Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs, CO I found out later she was a member of our small church! How fun!

  9. I forgot to say I live out in the middle of nowhere in MO now, and we don’t have a bookstore of any kind, Catholic or not which makes me sad. We have two churches both at least 30 miles…so I am hoping once we get involved we will learn where the closest one will be.

  10. 1. I do not [yet] shop at a local Catholic book store.
    2. More advertisement…maybe in the bulletin or something? I have lived in Birmingham, AL for 7 years and have never gone to see EWTN…so, I do know that there is one there, but I never think to go. Amazon is so much easier (after clicking through from here or another Catholic blogger, of course). And, our Church has a store, but I only bought my new rosary there (about 3 years ago)
    3. Book signings would be fun – and they may already do that. I would LOVE to meet you, Lisa, and get mine handful signed!! 😉
    4. I purchased my new rosary at our Church’s bookstore about 3 years ago. Oh, and thinking a bit more now…our Family Christian Bookstore has a Catholic section and I did get my Crucifix from them a year or so ago. But, I’m not sure if they count as “local” since they are a chain store.

    Hope this helps! Good luck with your study!

  11. 1. I choose to go to “local” (60 mi drive) catholic bookstores because I can’t pick up books and read excerpts on line, like I can at the store. I like holding the book and looking at the size of print, the layout etc…

    2. I don’t go frequently however, because of the difference. The town that has them has 3 catholic stores–but none have come into smaller communities. Why?

    3. I am not sure what I would want…maybe some on-line outreach like bible studies etc. But really, I go to bookstores because of the books! I would love to see more modern catholic fiction; do catholics not write good fiction??? I can’t seem to find much. I am picky about what I read so I end up reading evangelical Christian fiction that sometimes misses the mark of Catholicism….

    4. Gifts for first communion and confirmation. Didn’t have time to get much for me…..Did get some books on saints for my other children however. (We love to read aloud about saints during dinner…)

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