Ten or twenty years ago in small towns across America, you could almost be sure that any community that had more than two or three churches also had a bookstore geared towards selling Christian items. They weren’t chain stores, but humble shops run by devoted Christians who had a love of spreading the Word of God.
But something has happened in the last few years. Big box stores like Costco and Walmart can buy in massive quantities and charge rock bottom prices. Online retailers like Amazon.com follow the same pattern as the big box stores. There are also chain Christian retailers out there that seem to draw business from the smaller, one-store businesses.
In the extreme northern California counties of Humboldt and Del Norte, there used to be thriving Christian stores where one could get a specific translation of a Bible, pick up the latest Christian music artist’s release, and grab a gift for that newly married couple at church. Those days are gone. The stores closed more than ten years ago, leaving Christians looking for these items no choice but to head to Walmart or Amazon.com.
For a few years in the late 90’s there was a Christian bookstore in Fortuna, CA called Shining Light Bookstore. It served a large Christian community and was staffed by kind and helpful people. However, any business, Christian or otherwise, has to look at the accounts at the end of the month and see if there is black or red ink written there. Costs went up, spending went down, and in a county already plagued by economic issues Shining Light was forced to close its doors.
After a few years of being dissatisfied with the shopping options when looking for a Bible, Christian fiction, or even a study guide and being constantly asked by former customers about where to get particular items, the former owner of Shining Light Bookstore felt it was time to take action. Melodee Sanderson, along with her daughter and former employee Michelle Lee talked it over with God and came to a decision. They would open a small store in one of their church’s unused rooms. They took their idea before the church council of Rio Dell Baptist Church and were unanimously supported in their decision to bring the store to life.
Melodee and Michelle agree that this is not an endeavor that was started so they would make a profit for themselves. It was an opportunity to supply other Christians with a place to buy any Christian-related item they needed without having to go online or choose from a minimal selection at the local big box. The RDBC Bookstore now occupies an upstairs room at the Rio Dell Baptist Church, located at 100 Butcher Street in Rio Dell, California. The shelves are fully stocked with Bibles, various genres of Christian fiction, children’s items, DVDs and CDs, as well as several gift items.
Neither Melodee nor Michelle are paid for the time they devote to the bookstore and any profit that is made is funneled back into the various ministry programs sponsored by the church. In the first two weeks that the store was open, $200 was donated to the church’s youth program. That may seem like small potatoes to some, but in a town with a population of approximately 3500 residents, it is quite a profit.
At this time RDBC Bookstore is only open after weekly church services and by special appointment. Open hours are Sundays from 12:15 p.m. to approximately 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Appointment hours can be made by calling the church at 707-764-3811. Whether it’s a new Bible, a Toby Mac or Britt Nicole CD, or the latest release from Terri Blackstock or Stephen Bly, or any other special order, you can be sure that RDBC Bookstore is ready to help.
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