St Olav: Keeping Jesus on the High Street

The Times, Saturday 16 Jan 2010 - The call goes out to keep Jesus on the High Street

The call goes out to keep Jesus on the High Street

Phil Groom writes:

Thank you to Rebecca Paveley for a superb write-up in Saturday’s Times, p.100, outlining both the crisis facing and the future hope for the UK’s Christian bookshops: The call goes out to keep Jesus on the High Street.

And congratulations to St Olav Christian Bookshop, with their photo of opening day occupying centre spread in the article and featured as an example of the future shape of Christian bookselling:

Phil Groom writes a blog on the future of the Christian bookshop. He runs one himself at the London School of Theology which, despite having a guaranteed customer base, is still struggling. He believes the only future is for shops to be run in partnership with local churches as community hubs.

“Shops have got to be much more than just bookshops. They have to be destinations for community,” he says.

“We could ham up the guilt for Christians or local churches to get them to support us, but that would only work for so long. They have to realise that they need to work more closely with shops if they want to keep them.”

This model has led to one shop rising phoenix-like from the ashes of a former SPCK shop in Chichester.

St Olav Christian bookshop closed under the SPCK name in the summer but reopened four months later as an independent shop, with a board of trustees representing every denomination in the city.

The shop’s manager, Bradley Smith, says there is “every sign” that the shop will do well: “We have very loyal customers, we didn’t realise how loyal at first.”

More discussions about the future of Christian bookshops emerging shortly, hopefully, on that other blog Rebecca mentions: A Future and a Hope for the UK’s Christian Bookshops

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4 responses to “St Olav: Keeping Jesus on the High Street

  1. Valiant for Truth

    Wonderful to have such a large showcase for the Christian book trade, but SPCK might well feel a little aggrieved by two sections – “Booksellers faer another SPCK debacle, as when the well-known Christian bookseller collapsed between 2007 and 2009 amid acrimonious claims of mismanagement and employment tribunals” and “St Olav Christian bookshop closed under the SPCK name in the summer…”. SPCK may have mis-managed the handover to SSG, but it was SSG in charge from 2007-2009 and it was SSG taken to Tribunal. SPCK legally removed the use of their name for the bookshops in 2007, even if SSG continued for a time to have the name on buildings, labels etc..

  2. SPCK should write to the Times. Maybe they will explain why everybody is so keen to expunge SSG from the record books.

  3. Better picture of the Times article on LST’s news page: http://www.lst.ac.uk/smartweb/news-and-events/1/post/21

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