LAURINBURG – The Christian Book store on Main Street has been in business for 46 years. It will continue to operate in new year, only under new ownership.
Mollie Flowers, who has run and owned the Gospel Music and Christian Bookstore for 25 years sold the store to new owners, Living Water Church of God.
“I just want to thank my faithful customers for their support over the years. It’s been a journey, but oh my, what a blessing and a reward,” said Flowers who plans to volunteer in her retirement.
She will also “do good” for herself by traveling. He first stop is the Grand Canyon and on to other parts of the country.
Steve Adams, pastor of Living Waters, spoke highly of the impact Flowers’ store has had on the community.
“I think the Christian Book Store has been a great influence in this area. I watched Facebook the other day when Mollie put on that she was retiring and all the kind compliments and people said kind things. I thought what a tribute to someone who’s been over the years here with your faith and belief in God,” Adams said. “She’s left a fine Christian legacy in this town that we want to continue with the things of ministry. And going forward [she’s] left us a good foundation.”
Flowers did not initially intend to own a Christian book shop, all she knew 25 years ago was that she wanted to put her business degree from Appalachian State University to use by owning her own business. She wanted to “be an entrepreneur” and was ready to take on the task.
Flowers moved to Laurinburg from Myrtle Beach in the early 1989 to marry. She had retired from Lowes Home Improvement and was working in the Jobs program at the Department of Social Services, when she heard that the original owner of the Gospel Music Store, J.K. Kinkle, had passed away and the shop was for sale. Flowers bought the store that occupied the current Harley’s Tuxedo storefront in the summer of 1992. In February 1997, she moved the store to the corner of Main and Cronly Streets and has served the community at that location since then.
Living Water took over ownership of the store on Dec. 19 and changed the name to Living Water Christian Resources. The church intends to use the store as an extension of its ministry.
“We had been praying about a way we could minister more in the community, and we had several evangelists speak words of encouragement that the Lord was going to open some doors for us,” said Janie Adams. “Steve was in here talking to Mollie one day, and she shared that she was getting ready to retire, and it seemed like an open door to walk through.”
There was definitely a learning curve when deciding to buy and how to operate the store, according to Janie Adams.
“It was a great learning experience as far as business is concerned,” she said.
The biggest curve ball has been learning the difference between how a non-profit and a for-profit business is run with regard to taxes and employee payroll taxes and the day to day operations.
The church has put together a board of directors separate from that of the church’s board who will run the store.
The store plans to keep the majority of gifts, books, Bibles, church curriculum and other Christian themed merchandise it currently offers, but the new manager Velva Oxendine has plans to expand or re-vamp certain areas. Oxendine hopes to expand the children’s section and create a kids book club, and perhaps add minister’s days and other events.
She even wants to have a pet section,” Janie Adams said joking about the fact that Oxendine was a not originally a pet lover but recently fell on love with Adams’ mother’s dog, Winston.
“We have several things on the drawing board,” Steve Adams said. “And there will be some new things coming that will bless all denominations and all people. This is not set up for one certain type of group; it’s for all of God’s family.”
The store has also expanded its Saturday hours and will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
One thing that will not change is the store’s willingness to serve the community.
“We’re going to continue the same integrity that’s already in place here, and we’ll keep the same staff here, no need to change when you’ve already got excellence,” Steve Adams said.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169