Faith goes on sale in downtown BG

Patron Jane Barton looks at a revolving stand of bookmarks surrounded by books, frames and cards in one of Bowling Green’s newest stores.

Without the presence of a Christian bookstore in BG for 10 years, she and other shoppers would travel to Toledo and surrounding areas to buy Christian-based merchandise.

“I’m impressed; I’m just glad we’ve got one in town,” Barton said.

Cornerstone Christian Books and Gifts, located at 141 S. Main St., opened in December and boasts a full array of faith-based products. Geared toward shoppers of all ages, Cornerstone carries books, T-shirts, stickers, CDs, DVDs, cards and gifts for the Christian consumer.

Owners Michael and Jonie Gibbs started the independent venture to help people grow in their faith, and it has seen a steady growth of business.

“I thought this would be an opportunity to do something until basically I could define my calling better, but I’ve always enjoyed business,” Michael said.

With what his wife Jonie defines as an entrepreneurial spirit, the couple set out to start the first Christian book store in Bowling Green in a decade.

According to Michael, Cornerstone tries to have a larger selection of faith-based products and have a knowledgeable staff who know the merchandise. The Gibbs try to draw a clear line between the Christian and secular world though with their products.

“When you go into retail stores, you might be able to buy a James Dobson book, but right next to it you might be able to buy The Davinci Code. Which, for Christians who aren’t strong in their faith, that might set them back a little bit,” Michael said.

While the merchandise is clearly defined between Christian and non-Christian products, it varies in demographics.

“We try to reach all ages. We try to have a good selection of music and we’re still increasing that, just drawing everybody that we can,” Jonie said.

By putting catalogues in the Sentinel Tribune and advertising on a Toledo Christian radio station, the Gibbs are trying to advertise in the future. By networking with area churches and selling concert tickets, the Gibbs hope to draw in a wide array of customers.

“The most common response we get from customers is they are so glad they don’t have to drive to Toledo. We get that a lot,” Jonie said.

Cornerstone has listening stations where patrons can preview CDs by scanning them and listening to them on headphones or peek at the top ten Christian charts.

In the future the Gibbs hope to install a coffee bar and wireless Internet access to strengthen the atmosphere and attract more business. But right now they are content with spreading the word about Cornerstone.

“It’s not like were doing this for the profit, we’re doing it because we love the ministry,” Michael said.

Cornerstone will have its ribbon cutting ceremony on March 1 and will have refreshments and door prizes.

Associate trainer Stuart Cole at neighboring Panera, has been enjoying the increased shoppers.

“I think it’s great, we need more foot traffic downtown,” Cole said.

Cornerstone is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.