We’re visiting the bustling city of Lisburn across the water in Northern Ireland for this issue and having a look at two bookshops situated in different parts of the city and now both owned by Faith Mission.
The House of Vic-ryn is a retail outlet situated on the outskirts of the city and was formerly known as Inspire Bookshop until Faith Mission purchased it in April 2013. It is an enjoyable shopping experience for those who visit the bookshop as there is a lovely coffee shop situated in the outlet along with a number of other shops and the unit enjoys free parking.
Faith Mission’s original shop is situated right in the city centre beside the main shopping centre and occupying a much larger fl oor space. Parking in the town centre is readily available but fees apply. We spoke to the Bookshop Manager Tracy Brown who has spent time working in both shops to compare the differences in the two shops in very different positions.
Tracy has been employed in FM, Lisburn for nine years and took a year out from the town centre shop to oversee the starting up and
the running of the new concession bookshop within the House of Vic-Ryn. Tracey’s bright and friendly manner endears her to those who visit and she is always very enthusiastic about her vocation. She notes: “I found a lot of differencesworking in a busy city based bookshop to a quieter out of town bookshop set within a furniture store and cafe.
Tracy Brown in the Lisburn Shop
"The obvious differences were that I was working alone and didn’t have the support of fellow Christian staff for simple practical things. Lunch and comfort breaks were a thing of the past; it was a kettle under the counter and a packed lunch. There is a lovely cafe within the complex and it may have been a blessing in disguise that I couldn’t get time to visit it as the food was divine!
“The customers who visited varied a lot between the two shops. In the town centre 90% of customers are Christians, the other 10% would be non-Christian who wanted a Christian sympathy card or encouragement card, and we would have the mums who had children that needed Bibles for school, Girls Brigade, or Scouts etc. In Vic Ryn I would say that the customer base was about 50/50 ratio,“The cafe within the complex is Christian run with a great church customer base but the rest were just people out for lunch or business meetings etc.
“The bookshop is in a prime position at the entrance within the complex so all the customers have to pass the bookshop to get to the cafe or the furniture store, so we had customers who would never darken the door of a Christian bookstore calling in to have a look at the cards and gifts. We always have Christian music playing so it was a great chance to chat to people and build relationships and witness to them about Jesus. We also had a good chance to witness to other staff within the complex so there are a lot of advantages for a bookstore within this position.
“Being out of town, the parking is free, you can park right outside the door and not worry about traffic wardens and parking tickets. I had a lot of customers who preferred to collect orders for Sunday School in Vic-Ryn as they could park outside and run in to collect their order. For the elderly, the out-of-town store proves more popular as it is a nice place to go out for a drive, have lunch and browse the books and cards, so another advantage.”
Tracy is now back into the Lisburn city centre store again and enjoys the buzz of the busier store especially during holiday times, and having the extra staff, she always has more opportunity to chat, encourage and witness to customers.
“I like to always remember that, yes, we are in the business of selling books and cards and gifts, but our ultimate goal must always be to tell as many people that Jesus loves them, and if I do that every day, my day has been worthwhile.”
June 16th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine