Living Oasis: A new and exciting vision for your local Christian Bookshop

The following message was sent out yesterday to supporters and friends of Wesley Owen Harrow:

Dear Friends

‘Living Oasis’ – A new and exciting vision for your local Christian Bookshop:

I am delighted to be able to tell you that although Wesley Owen in Harrow will be closing very soon, a plan has been proposed to reopen under new ownership and with a new trading name as soon as possible and hopefully within the next few weeks.

Along with a number of other Wesley Owen stores, we have been approached by the Nationwide Christian Trust with a proposal to allow us to continue trading for the next few months and then to move forward to extend the work we do to support the Church. The proposals made are very exciting and very much in line with the vision we have held as the way forward for Christian bookshops.

The following is an extract taken from the brochure produced by the Nationwide Christian Trust and is presented for your consideration:

The vision is to provide a Church presence on the high street to connect with Christians and non Christians alike.

The mission objective is to provide resources for the Church as they seek to impact their local communities. Looking at the life of Jesus we see a man out in the market place engaging with people as they went about their daily routines. This is our vision for the ‘Living Oasis’ venues.

Christian bookshops have previously held a narrow focus resulting in reduced viability. We will be looking at each store seeking to create a place relevant to the surrounding area and working in that context. We will be working with the store manager and local Christians to explore ways to increase footfall and to use the store outside normal hours for imaginative projects and events. We will also be seeking to envision local people toward ways of thinking that move us from maintenance to mission with centres being used in a dynamic and strategic way for the work of the Kingdom. We will be seeking to draw local Churches on board to become stakeholders in these opportunities and become involved in a number of ways.

The proposals for our store include the following possibilities to run alongside the bookshop:

  • Coffee shop to be open to all – Christian and non Christian
  • Lounge area – to be used, for example, by Church youth groups
  • Children’s Play Area – a supervised and safe place for children whilst Mum/Dad relaxes or does some shopping in peace and quiet!
  • Meeting room for Church use
  • Prayer ministry facility

In order to make this succeed and become a centre that is relevant to the Church in our area, we need your input and support. The decision to go ahead will depend on the level of enthusiasm, interest and support you are willing to give! So, if you share our vision and sense the value of maintaining a Christian presence on the high street we would encourage you to get involved to ensure that we can take this vision forward. It will not happen without you!

To provide you with further information we invite our Church Leaders/Church Representatives/Youth Leaders etc to a lunchtime meeting at which refreshments will be provided. A representative from the Nationwide Christian Trust will give a presentation and there will be opportunity for questions to be asked and contributions to be made. Venue and date will be advised asap.

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers. Let’s not let this God given opportunity slip through our fingers.

Many thanks and blessings


Pauline Banks: Manager
Dionysia Ayeni: Assistant Manager

Wesley Owen Books and Music
11 Masons Avenue
Harrow HA3 5AH
020 8861 3259

Interested parties are invited to contact the shop on the above number or to contact Pauline Banks directly.

A final plea from a friend of the shop:

If people could take this to their churches and church leaders and let everybody know, if we don’t get what the Nationwide Christian Trust deem to be a high enough level of interest then we will leave the high street possibly never to return again, the shop in Watford are looking for the same kind of support.


13 thoughts on “Living Oasis: A new and exciting vision for your local Christian Bookshop

  1. All of this is nice reading, but have you guys got a plan to take this business to the nation? Remember you can not be copying the old WO format as you will all end up in the same place where you are now. I would prefer if you all remained as one company instead of you all going your own way. That you would computerised the business. This can be done through Oracle or Microsoft Dynamic Retail Solution. Add security barriers at the front of your branches and tag your products so that they do not walk through your doors unpaid for. Oh and remember you do not have to put all of your eggs into one basket by having STL to supply you with all of your books, remember you can get greater deals in the US through the likes of Ingrams and Whitiker

  2. Great news, please don’t also forget that stock can be obtained from other UK Independent suppliers (like me!), who would welcome the opportunity of continuing as suppliers to former Wesley Owen shops.

  3. Great news about Sutton.Well done Nationwide Christian Trust.. Will the helpful staff who know-and have built friendships with- the local people be kept on at the new venture? They have continued to work on bravely amongst all the recent uncertainty… especially over the busy Christmas and New Year. In addition, i assume staff who look after children at the new store will have CRB clearance?

  4. This is brilliant news for the various Wesley Owen shops concerned. All the best for your shop, Pauline.

    I hope the potential new owners are more forward thinking than the dated ‘Living Oasis’ name suggests.

  5. amazing -that’s the pattern thta some of us suggested to Scripture Union, before they sold out to Wesley Owen, all those years ago.
    As well as bookshop staff there could have been a skilled group of SU staff supporting

  6. Hi Arkle

    Arguably, a lot of the WO staff would see themselves as more than booksellers and so they should. They are skilled in a huge eclectic array of differing areas. The job entailed, counselling, knowledge of therapeutic practices, knowledge and understanding of oppression, a wide understanding and sympathy of varying denominations, good basic Bible knowledge, etc. etc.

    …lots more than “that will be £9.99, please. Have a nice day!”

    • Matt,

      No disrespect but how many people were actaully fully trained in counselling? listening is one thing – counselling is another.

      If people are going to offer such things they do need to be trained and qualified.
      That’s not to knock any of them or indeed any christian booksellers, because most have the same or similar skill sets on an ad hoc basis and also often aquired on the job – you know a bit like the barman/publican who everyone tells all their troubles to, well the same is true working in a christian bookshop as many feel we are approachable and see us akin to the vicar.
      However it is something we do need to be clear on, if we are not fully qualified we should not undertake such things as we potentially put at risk both ourselves and the other person.

      If we are booksellers we can be listeners and carers too, but if we are not trained counsellors we should not be counselling – there is a time and place for that and the shop floor is frequently not that place.

      Hence why the idea should be, and as I hope it sounds like from LO, that fully qualified staff would be utilised in these differing aspects, and that’s what Arkle was suggesting.

      Heck this bookseller is fully qualified in Life & Business Coaching, holds a certificate in Counselling and is trained in training amongst other things – however I don’t do any of that in the shop (though I might utilise some of those skills, especially with some more obstreperous customers and minions!). In the shop I am a bookseller and that’s how it should be I think.

  7. I heartily agree, Melanie – a sympathetic ear is one thing, but no to counselling unless trained and in the right place at the right time. I used to have a member of staff who was trained, but never felt the bookshop was the right place to exercise the skill.

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