The Gospel Lighthouse Christian Bookstore in Tillsonburg, and four other Gospel Lighthouse stores in Brantford, Guelph, Kitchener and Cambridge, are closing Aug. 29.
Retirement, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer buying habits all contributed to a decision made by owners Murray and Marna Mudford of Port Rowan to close their five remaining stores.
“It was a combination,” said Marna Mudford. “We are getting on in years and need to be free of it. Our daughter Lynda has really been doing the major part of running the business for quite a few years now. But because of the change in retail it’s not the same any more. People are ordering online, and with the whole COVID thing it’s magnified the situation. So we feel like this is a good time to make a change.”
Currently they have 30 per cent sales – they will not be continuing as an online book store.
“The shipping is really expensive,” said Marna. “The big companies can do shipping for a good price. If you’re smaller and you take something to the post office, it costs $10 to mail a book. And to start over again with something small, we’re just not in a place to do that right now.”
Gospel Lighthouse has been in business for 32 years. It opened its first store in Simcoe in 1988. The second store was in Tillsonburg.
“We’re really thankful for the relationships that have been built, for the staff that have helped us out, for the small town communities that have supported us,” said Mudford. “It has really been a blessing. We feel like we’ve been a blessing in every community we’ve been in. I know that a community that has a Christian bookstore is different because the Christian bookstore is there, because of the material that we sell.
“It’s been really difficult for us to give it up. We’ve been doing it for a few years just because we couldn’t give it up. It hasn’t been a ‘Business’ with a capital B, it’s been a love.”
The original Simcoe store and building was sold two to three years ago. Over the years the Mudfords have served 20 communities in southern Ontario, and a few years ago they had 12 stores.
“We’ve been closing them, one-two-or-three a year for a couple years,” said Marna Mudford. “And now we’re down to five. We had the Lighthouse on Bay in Port Rowan, and were running the business there, but we sold that just this summer.”