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LifeWay Christian Stores finishes fiscal year with 119 locations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Stores opened four new stores and acquired six others that included two Moody Bible Bookstores from Moody Bible Institute during its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The growth was seen as “a solid performance” amid economic uncertainty.

“While running a tight ship during a tough economy, we’ve laid the foundation for long-term growth and ministry opportunities,” said Mark Scott, vice president of LifeWay Christian Stores, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources. “Our vision calls for us to help people and churches know Jesus Christ and seek His Kingdom. We do this through the biblical products we sell in all 119 stores nationwide.”

New stores are located in Baton Rouge, La.; Beaumont, Texas; Albany, Ga.; and Bowling Green, Ky. Acquired stores were in Amarillo, Texas; Indianapolis; and Chicago. Stores which relocated, moving to more strategic locations and larger facilities, included Hurst, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Roanoke, Va.

Managers of the new stores report positive responses from customers.

James Patterson, manager of the Beaumont store, said the growing pains have already begun. “We’re already gearing up for Christmas.

“We’re the only Southern Baptist bookstore in this area, so we’re able to put a face on LifeWay with the local churches,” Patterson said.

The distance between Beaumont and larger metro areas such as Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth made it difficult for the thousands of churches in that area to physically visit a LifeWay Christian Store. The opening in Beaumont changed that.

“A few of the churches usually shop online with us,” Patterson said. “Now that the store is here, the customers are coming in. We get compliments every day from people thanking us for being here.”

More than 1,100 customers visit the store each week, Patterson said, adding that his staff is devoted to giving each customer personal attention. The staff prays regularly for the requests and needs of the people who come in.

“We want to assist our customers with every detail before they possibly make the 45-minute drive home,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Mike Bertram, manager of the Albany store, said he and his staff were invited to a “Sunday Night LifeWay Service” hosted by Lakeside Baptist Church, to welcome the store to the community.

“They were one of the churches in this area that really campaigned for our store to come here, and this was their way of thanking us for coming,” Bertram said.

Bertram reported that sales have been good going into the store’s fourth month, but ministry opportunities seem to be making a larger impact within the Albany community. Several of the store employees have prayed with customers, and though that is a standard practice for LifeWay as a whole, Bertram said it’s considered unique in their area.

“Several people have said that just doesn’t happen here in Albany,” Bertram recounted. “We feel like we’ve touched a lot of lives already through our being here.”

Making a difference in the lives of customers also is the goal for LifeWay employees of the Baton Rouge store, a potential challenge in a location where more than half the population is Catholic.

“Not a day that goes by that we don’t have someone come in asking for a Catholic Bible or a first communion gift,” said Mark Rodgers, manager of the Baton Rouge LifeWay store. “It’s been a challenge but we’ve learned to answer their questions and help them the best that we know how.”

This is Rodgers’ first position with LifeWay. A retired Navy officer, Rodgers will serve as a bivocational music minister for Live Oak Baptist Church in Watson, La., which he described as a good way to get involved in the community.

The store’s employees have seen success with both business and ministry since it opened a year ago.

“Week by week, you try to get the victories that you can,” Rodgers said.

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