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Bible bookstore going out of business

By ALLISON MILES
July 12, 2012 at 2:12 a.m.
Updated July 13, 2012 at 2:13 a.m.

Blessed By the Gift, 6703 N. Navarro St., will close after nine years in business. Owners said economic issues contributed to the decision. The store will remain open, offering discounted items, through July and possibly into August.

STORE SALES

Blessed By the Gift will host a store closing sale through July, and possibly into August. For more information, visit the store at 6703 N. Navarro St. or call 361-575-7415.

Blessed By the Gift, by the numbers:

• More than 37,000: Bibles sold

• More than 1 million: Communion cups sold

• $50,000: Donations of money and religious items to other organizations and individuals

• Thousands: Written prayer requests posted on prayer board and prayers prayed with visitors who came in

Source: Letter to Blessed By the Gift customers

A printed bit of Scripture sat taped to the door of Blessed By the Gift on Thursday: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."

The message was a fitting reminder for the store and its owners, as both prepare for new seasons of their own.

After nine years in Victoria, the religious goods store will soon close.

Economic issues led to the decision, said Wanda Williams, who co-owns the business with her husband, Jeff Williams. Christian retail is challenging, she said, and the past two to three years were particularly difficult.

"This is not something we want to do," she said about the closing. "But, financially, we can't go on."

In a letter that went out to many customers, the owners laid out their financial difficulties.

The store experienced a 75-percent decline in CD sales as music downloads, iPods and other MP3 devices rose in popularity, they said, while online purchases and shifts to e-books also played their role.

A store closing sale began Monday, with every item marked down by 20 percent or more. The sale includes furniture, fixtures, computers and more, although certain music CDs and accompaniment, which are created in-store as customers wait, are excluded.

"Nothing else will be held back and everything must be sold to try and satisfy the significant amounts we owe to the bank and other creditors," the owners said in their letter.

Longtime customer Lola Girdy visited Thursday, in search of items for the missionary work she does. She clutched a handful of stickers, small books and other items she said she hoped would encourage people.

"I hate to hear that they're closing," she said, eyeing religious-themed car ornaments. "This is a very special place."

Meanwhile, two other customers said divine intervention brought them together that day.

Audrey Huntsinger visited the store for the first time Thursday, in search of a Bible for a family member experiencing difficulties. She happened upon Gracie Drexler, an Edna resident who said she felt God wanted her to visit the store.

With help from Drexler, Huntsinger prepared to leave the store with an armful of books.

The closing is a sad one, Drexler said, explaining there weren't many places to get the religious items the store specializes in.

"But they've got to go on and do what God wants them to do," she said. "It will work out."

Wanda Williams said she appreciated the support and understanding her customers offered, and said she didn't quite know what the future held.

The store will remain open through July, she said, and possibly into August, depending on sales. After that, she said, things were unclear.

"We're still praying for a miracle," she said. "We're just going to get through this first, and then see what God has in store."

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