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I Thank God For Unanswered Prayers

Andrew (5) during prayers tonight: “For my future spouses and vocations.”

We usually pray for our children's future spouses and vocations. He beat us to the punch this time.


  1. Re: The store sells stuff that is anti-Catholic

    I suppose the corollary to this is that just because you the customer may not care for something doesn’t make it anti-Catholic. The customer should beware of reducing Catholicism to his or her own personal taste.

  2. Excellent article Ian. You hit on many observations I have made as I research for a new store. I had to chuckle about #4 & #8 as you must have visited our local Catholic store in my area. You nailed it!

  3. Very interesting discussion.

    In regards to “my store doesn’t have a coffee bar”, why couldn’t a Catholic store sell Mystic Monk Coffee, roasted by contemplative Carmelite Monks? (This is a good Carmelite order; they say an indult Tridentine Mass, and they have also produced a CD you may like to sell.) Anyway, you could have free samples of this coffee in your store, thus producing an enticing, warm aroma — and of course you could sell their coffee beans. You could also offer their Carmelite double-handed mug. For more info, visit: http://www.carmelitemonks.org/coffee.html

    I’d also like to add a comment about poor customer service among certain Catholic apostolates. Just because a store/apostolate is Catholic doesn’t give it an automatic absolution to act in a incompetent way. I know many apostolates are short-handed, but it shouldn’t take weeks for someone to reply to an email about an order someone has placed. [I just need to vent! It took nearly two months for me to receive some items from a particular Catholic apostolate (NOT Aquinas and More) and they had already charged my credit card. Very unprofessional.] In contrast, I should commend Aquinas and More Catholic Goods for their good customer service and the personal touch they add to their orders.

    Overall, Catholic stores/apostolates need to remember the words of Our Lord: “For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” Why shouldn’t Catholic stores/apostolates be wiser in their business practices than the “children of this world”? Why not use your talents, resources and time to be the best Catholic store you can be? Why not have book signings at Catholic stores? Or book discussion groups/classes? Who knows? Your Catholic store may be the catalyst for bringing souls to the Catholic Church (or back to the Catholic Church). However feasible, let’s take the good business practices of Amazon, B&N, Starbucks, etc., and apply them to Catholic stores/apostolates for the greater glory of God!

  4. I do buy from Catholic Book Stores. As a converted protestant I would say Catholics need to be extremely careful of what “Christian” literature is out there coming from protestants. Much of what is coming out of the “faith” communities now is NOT biblical at all. There are extremely popular preachers putting out heresy and the preachers are getting rich all in the name of giving the people what they want…These preachers and their billion dollar ministries are drawing catholics and protestants alike to false teachings with their golden calves.

  5. Some good points, Ian.

    2 things come to mind: prices and coffee

    I would note that the coffee thing is an expectation of a book store these days. Regardless of how much negativity you feel toward the large retailers, the customer’s expectations are set when they arrive because theyve been to a BN, Borders or similar. While you can postulate at length about the double mocha vs the 8 bucks (or 3, whatever), if you were selling the coffee, you might have that extra revenue instead of the box store. 🙂

    Kristin made a great point that jives with the rest of your post regarding finding a Catholic source for coffee and mugs. Ditto for tea, chocolate, pastries and all the other mishmash that you find at a bookstore.

    Regarding higher prices vs BN/Amazon and the independent retailers inability to compete on price – that’s where your value proposition has to raise expectations to a point where BN/Borders or a big online store cant or (more importantly) WONT compete (even if that online store is yours).

    I think you missed one huge advantage to shopping at a Catholic store: Knowledge of the faith. In order to make the advantage a bullet item for this post, it might be listed as something along the lines of “I dont care that the clerks in the big box store don’t Saint Jude from Judas Priest.”

    When I go to a specialty retailer, I *expect* the staff to be experts and enthusiasts about the goods and services that the store sells. I’m going there and paying a higher price for something because I know (expect) that they are more experienced or smarter than me (or at least, better trained) on the subject matter and can help me with the deep, dark insider secrets of a particular item.

  6. Ian,

    I forgot something in my coffee/prices comment 🙂

    A lot of the things mentioned in this post are the kinds of things that need to be included in materials available to your store’s customers – even walk and wanders who dont buy anything.

    Signs, inserts in their bags, email and printed newsletters, brief tidbits during interaction with customers in the store, etc.

    One of the best ways to realign a customer’s expectations is to educate them just like you do here on the blog. The brick and mortar clientele deserves no less and in fact, the overhead of the store practically demands it.


  7. The local Catholic bookshop is always my destination of first choice when it comes to buying books. Unfortunately, my personal reading material has become so esoteric of late that there’s no way the Catholic shop will carry it–nor the big chain either, for that matter.

    However, I do buy lots of gift books at the local Catholic shop. I’ve got to do a better job of patronizing them more often. If only they were closer!

  8. Excellent article. If I were to buy a bike I would go to a bike expert. If I were to buy a violin I would go to a music shop. So why not go to a Catholic shop with a Catholic owner who practices his faith if I want Catholic staff instead of fattening Amazon’s etc super profits?

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