I was given a gift card to Catholic Door in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
With the holiday season right around the corner, you may be putting together several shopping lists. Maybe you're looking for the perfect gift for your local parish priest, or a new Advent reflection series to aid your prayer life during this season of preparation. But before you log onto your Amazon account, I think there is something beautiful in supporting Catholic bookstores this Christmas season (and any season!).
I got the chance to browse the online shelves at Catholic Door, an online Catholic bookstore. and I had a great shopping experience there. With a gift card, I was able to get some gorgeous shirts from Pio Prints, as well as 'Rome Sweet Home' by Scott Hahn, a book that has been on Joseph's reading list for quite a while. I loved their free shipping with no minimum purchase, and how easy it was to communicate with them about my order.
I also work my local Catholic book store, Trinity House, part time. The more time I've spent there (and talking to Dave, who owns Catholic Door), the more I've realized that Catholic bookstores need our support. If we don't support their business, we may walk up to their store one day and find their doors closed forever. Here are five quick reasons to shop at Catholic bookstores!
1. You're supporting family businesses
Dave Whitworth is the founder of Catholic Door, a premier Catholic store online. Catholic Door was started back in 2015, when Dave and his wife, Laurel, decided there had to be a better shopping experience for Catholic books, goods, and gifts. Their goal is not only be a great resource for Catholics, but also to help build a strong Catholic culture. They donate 10% of their profits to various Catholic charities.
"Right now it is a family business," Dave said, describing how his family all pitches in to make the business a success. "My wife and I run it out of our house along with our 4 young kids aged 3, 5, 7 and 9. The two older kids are homeschooled and the younger ones will be as well once they are old enough. The kids love to help get out shipments and my wife loves looking for new and fresh merchandise but also bringing order and organization to my big picture and entrepreneurial brain."
Dave's family isn't the only family dedicated to their Catholic bookstore. I work at my local Catholic bookstore, Trinity House, and it's awesome to see a family atmosphere there as well.
2. There isn't community on Amazon
Believe me, I know how convenient Amazon is - and you can't beat Alexa putting things on your grocery list for you. But convenience is no substitute for authentic community, especially when it comes to shopping for Catholic books and gifts.
"We are tired of hearing Catholic authors say that you can buy their book on Amazon or your local Catholic book store," Dave said. "We want them to start saying you can buy it on Catholic Door or your local Catholic bookstore. So we actively try to price our books at very competitive prices...many times even cheaper than Amazon. If you can't find a book in our bookstore, then reach out to us and many times we can custom order it for you and you still can take advantage of our free shipping."
Walking into your local Catholic bookstore can be an a breath of fresh air when it comes to shopping. As an employee of my local Catholic bookstore, seeing people come in a sit down to drink coffee and chat about their faith life is an amazing work environment. You also can get a chance to know the people behind the products!
3. You're supporting Catholic artisans
Catholic artisans and authors benefit directly when you shop at your local Catholic bookstore. Dave talked about how his bookstore supports other Catholic businesses. "Our jewelry is almost entirely made here in the US by individual artisans who design and create their own jewelry," he said. "If any of our goods are made outside of the US, then we strive to find ones that are made in predominately Catholic countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Poland, etc. . . Excluding books, most of our vendors are small companies or family businesses like ours."
I loved getting to know each artisan as I browsed through Catholic door. I felt like I was getting to know them and the inspiration behind their work. Check out this beautiful print and the biography of the artisan whose work is available at Catholic door:
"Painfully shy as a child, Jen Norton was unable to communicate with anyone outside her family except through drawing. Visual language was her first language and she never lost her passion for its ability to communicate for her. Jen Norton graduated from Santa Clara University where she earned a Bachelors degree in Fine Art, with a Minor in Business. After graduating from college, Jen worked as a Graphic Designer. Meaningful relationships and everyday moments of family and home are her subject matter, revealing the Jesuit principles of finding God in the everyday and mundane that were instilled in her education.
Jen works in acrylic, using expressive color, texture and pattern to reveal the sublime in the ordinary. She begins each painting with underlying layers of intense hues and expressive brushwork, which gradually become hidden from view as the painting progresses. These underlying layers are important to the depth of the final work, just as years of spiritual growth are to a well-rounded soul. Jen seeks to develop order and beauty from chaos. Jen believes that through art, one can hear the whisper of a mighty Creator. Her intention is that her art may cause you to pause and listen."
4. You can improve your local economy
The people that own Catholic bookstores are also members of your community. The money you use to buy that Bible for your nephew's confirmation is then used to support other Catholic artisans, or it could be used to buy groceries at your local grocery store.
Small business owners, like those who own your local Catholic bookstore, and Dave at Catholic Door, also strengthen relationships among neighbors, parishes, other business owners, community leaders, priests, religious communities, and schools. They also may support local causes, which creates an even better community to live in.
5. They have beautifully unique gift options
Your local (and online!) Catholic bookstores often stock items that are made locally or specifically curated for the shop. When it come to gift giving, especially this time of year, one-of-a-kind items are a huge benefit to shopping local and getting off Amazon. If you buy a gift (or something for yourself, which is usually how my gift shopping goes) from your local Catholic bookstore, chances are there won't be duplicates.
You'll often find that your local Catholic bookstore will stock titles by local authors that aren't on the shelves of major chain bookstores. You'll find unique gifts made by people who may even go to your parish - and you'll be supporting their art and family, too!
So this year, log onto Catholic Door before you log onto Amazon, and make a trip to your local Catholic bookstore. Meet new people, find out something new about your faith, and support these great, small businesses!