Big Island couple starts Christian bookstore and Web site
JOE and Barbara Farias are two of those people you hear about who quit their jobs to pursue a passion. In this case, however, they weren't just quitting one job.
"My wife and I left all our five jobs. We wanted to do something more meaningful, to create change on the (Big) Island but also the world, so we had a vision and acted on it," Joe said.
Their passion, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, will be accomplished through God's Bookstore LLC, a Waimea-based Christian bookstore and its e-commerce Web site.
"We wanted our online Christian bookstore to be an inspiration for others to lead more spirit-filled lives," said Barbara.
"Our books and products address the struggles we all face in life ... such as distressed marriages, chronic addiction, grave illness, troubled families and the uncertainty Christians experience in the face of natural disasters," she said.
There are few specialty retailers of Christian books on the island, Joe said.
He had worked at Borders Books & Music for years, while her background was in retail management. She sold her Waikoloa condo to keep food on the table and finance the startup.
The couple spent nine months doing research and traveling to Christian bookstores around the state. "We wanted to see what the bookstore owners were doing with their stores and we wanted to have a niche to make us different from the rest of them," Joe said.
They joined the Christian Booksellers Association and went to a trade show in Colorado in July. They made connections and some vendors will offer merchandise in Hawaii exclusively through the Farias' company.
The Fariases knew, though, they were taking on the well-established online retailer Christianbook.com.
"They have half the books that we have," Joe said. God's Bookstore also carries 8,000 Bibles -- twice the editions of the mainland site -- and three times the 10,000 CD titles carried by Christianbook.com, Joe said.
God's Bookstore's order fulfillment and supply are handled by mainland distributors.
Some prices are lower on the Farias' site, while some are lower at Christianbook.com.
Farias offers free shipping with orders of $40 or more and hopes local people will choose to support a local business, rather than one based on the mainland.
The doors of the new company's brick-and-mortar store, at Uilani Plaza in Waimea, were to open first with the Web site to follow, but delays in setting up the physical store meant the online store opened first -- about a month ago. The 1,070-square-foot Waimea store is due to open before Thanksgiving.
God's Bookstore will host a "Narnia Night," a premiere screening of C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe," on Dec. 8, a day before the film's general release.
The couple for months has been visiting different churches each Sunday to let the congregations know about the business. This weekend makes church No. 38.
All denominations have warmly received the couple, including "Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Christians, without all the labeling getting in the way. We should all be together in one church, singing and praising God together," he said.
Communities on the Big Island are so spread out, "that people are ecstatic when you're going to save them a couple hours on the road," he said.
The Farias business cards identify Barbara as servant leader and Joe as chief spiritual officer.
After receiving the cards, one pastor "made a point with his whole congregation, challenging the men by asking 'How many of you are the chief spiritual officer in your home?'" Barbara chuckled.
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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org