News Roundup: VeggieTales Return; Turf Wars in Inverness; Hothorpe Hall Bookshop Closing; and 5 Quid for Life needs you!

WHILST THE RISE OF THE EBOOK continues, apparently, to threaten the entire trade, we still live in exciting times as:


Read on to find out more…

VeggieTales Return to Authentic Media

Remember VeggieTales? They’re back! Courtesy of none other than Authentic Media, who write:

Authentic are pleased to announce that we will once again be stocking VeggieTales!

The animated, entertaining and educational vegetables will be making their way back into Authentic stocks very soon. Some new titles will be available from the 5th March with many others following soon after…

Trade supply will be via STL UK (or whatever they’re calling themselves by then) and promotional materials should be available via your STL rep: see today’s STL blog post for more details.

VeggieTales are back! Download the Authentic press release for full details (pdf)

VeggieTales are back! Download the Authentic press release for full details (pdf, 500kb)

CLC v/s Living Oasis: The Mess in Inverness

Inverness Turf War: Living Oasis v CLC

Inverness Turf War - Living Oasis v CLC

News of disturbing developments in Inverness is emerging as Living Oasis prepare to vacate the former Wesley Owen premises following acquisition of the lease by CLC: the excerpt opposite from a recent online chat sums things up succinctly and asks the right questions: what is going on with the Christian retail world?

My understanding of the situation — which no one from either Living Oasis or CLC has seen fit to challenge thus far, but I stand ready to be corrected if necessary — is that last year, with the encouragement of local Christians, CLC attempted to liaise with Living Oasis over the possibility of working together in Inverness. Living Oasis, however, in the words of another source, “wouldn’t hear of it” and pressed on regardless in pursuit of their own vision.

Every story has two sides, however. Andy Twilley:

It is a great pity that, without consultation with us, CLC has taken over the lease of the Living Oasis shop where we were trading in Inverness, thus forcing us to close. Their refusal to engage with us in the weeks leading up to this happening is at best unfortunate, and I certainly feel that what has taken place, and how it has been handled, brings no honour or glory to God.

If there’s a lesson to be learnt, I guess it’s a harsh one: if you believe you’ve got a vision from God, you’ve got to go for it — because half-hearted measures simply don’t cut it. Jesus calls us to total commitment (Revelation 3.15ff comes to mind) and maintaining a rolling one-month lease hardly seems to reflect that, let alone being unfair on both the staff and the property owner. Hardly surprising, then, that when someone else comes along with a longer-term commitment, the landlady agrees; and this is not the first lease that Living Oasis have lost to another bidder: Living Oasis Croydon: Call for prayer as new lease is threatened.

Could the Inverness situation have been handled better? Undoubtedly so. But as for allocating blame: I’d say that there are neither villains nor heroes in this particular story, just casualties; and those, I fear — as usual in any sort of takeover — will be the staff caught up in the turmoil.

CLC have confirmed that they take on the lease with effect from 1st March 2011 but have declined further comment.

Hothorpe Hall Bookshop Closing

Less of a debacle but nonetheless sad, a brief note from Hothorpe Hall asking me to remove their UKCBD entry:

Hothorpe Hall still operates as a conference centre and wedding venue and we still sell some Christian books, but this bookshop will cease to trade in the near future so I recommend you remove any references to Hothorpe Hall as a Christian bookshop.

5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net

5 Quid for Life

5 Quid for Life

If you’re brave or foolhardy enough to follow my personal blog you may recall that in my final week at LST last year, I said that I planned to devote some time to blogging in support of my madosphere friends: there’s far too much stigma and misunderstanding attached to mental illness where there should be respect and support for those who are battling these traumas.

That’s a commitment that’s become even more important since then with the current government’s plans to do away with Disability Living Allowance and replace it with what they’re calling “Personal Independence Payment”. With a superficial glance at the proposals, it doesn’t look like a bad thing: the benefit system needs reforming, surely?

Maybe so, if you’re a Daily Mail reader and happen to believe that the majority of those on benefits are layabouts and scum who need nothing more than a kick up the backside to get them into work. But the reality is that the vast majority of people on Disability Living Allowance need that benefit — they need our support, not our scorn.

And of those people, amongst the least understood and most vulnerable are those who are mentally ill. They, of all people, are the least well equipped to contend with the sort of changes that the government’s proposals are bringing in. Imagine, if you can, having your mind damaged by trauma, abuse or some other horror, but eventually, somehow, you find a way to survive. You’re not fit to work: perhaps it’s voices in your head that won’t give you peace or let you concentrate; or a constant fear that those who wrecked your life will find you again; then there’s depression and sleeplessness and self-harm — the list goes on. But you survive, just. You’ve gone through it all with your therapist and whoever else and you’ve ended up on benefits, surviving.

Then the system changes and you’re faced by — by what, exactly? That’s the problem: you don’t know. The only thing you do know is that you’re going to be reassessed. Will they simply sign you off on the basis of what’s already known about you? Or will they force you to relive the nightmare?

But rather than say more myself, I invite you to go read this, from my friend Ali Quant: The beginning of the end. Be warned now: it’s uncomfortable reading; but it’s also essential reading if you want to truly understand the impact the government’s proposals are having upon people like Ali.

And so, 5 Quid for Life was born: a mental health safety net. As I explain in my introductory post, it started as an idea to save one life, namely Ali Quant’s. But a team of others took hold of the idea with me and, at Ali’s request, we’ve expanded our horizons and are now looking out for anyone who, due to mental illness, is at risk of losing their incomes, homes or lives as a consequence of the benefit system changes.

It’s a wild idea: who launches a fundraising project like this in the midst of a national economic crisis? But then I ask, what kind of God thinks he can save the world by getting himself crucified? So I dare to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m in good company.

The project is very much in its infancy at the moment, too small to even officially register with the Charities Commission; but we’re determined to make it happen and well on the way to formal establishment. Will you join us?

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14 thoughts on “News Roundup: VeggieTales Return; Turf Wars in Inverness; Hothorpe Hall Bookshop Closing; and 5 Quid for Life needs you!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention News Roundup: VeggieTales Return; Turf Wars in Inverness; Hothorpe Hall Bookshop Closing; and 5 Quid for Life needs you! « The Christian Bookshops Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. Thank goodness veggietales are finally back – yay silly cool cuke type dance going on!

    So sad to hear of the scottish border dispute in Inverness, have to say that I do wonder why LO took over the Inverness shop when there was already a CLC ensuring that Christian Books were available there unlike so many other towns & cities that LO could have looked to open in instead that have no Christian bookshop or retailler – be it chain, charity or independent.
    However by the same token I’m wondering why the CLC took over the LO lease when they have a longstanding shop already and in such a way as after all there had been a WO trading there before hand anyway.

    I guess the truth is we shall possibly never know the realities of the situation, but one reality we do know is that physical Christian retailling is getting tougher to maintain, sustain and/or grow in pretty much any town/city/area these days and so the days of multiple stores with strong overlaps co-existing successfully begin to diminish greatly.
    I think based upon other things we’ve witnessed in the Christian retailling/supplying arena that those doing the work consider protecting their existing interest, or indeed growing it, as being a form of stewardship rather than a potentially damaging and uncharitable act of modern business practice.
    There is a good argument that we are called to be strong stewards and to work to protect and increase that which the Lord has given us to do his work with, however I think with this does come a kind of instrinsically important ‘do no harm’ codicil though that we should not overlook.
    I do think that does mean thinking carefully before stepping into/overlapping someone elses area of stewardship first, especially if we might be sure of, or entertain even a slight concern about, the potential harm or lessening we may be doing to their work – after all though called to careful stewardship and growth thereof, we are also called to put ourselves last, to be the servant fully, we must diminish so he may increase, those that would be first must be last, etc.
    So sometimes perhaps that means not stepping into areas others are working in – even if we think we can add something they can’t or do it better than they can, and sometimes maybe it means giving up something for another to do even if it is/was originally under our domain or stewardship or could be thought to be so.
    It’s a consideration we should all think on anytime we entertain thoughts of change, expansion or growth – Does my adding this or doing this effect others in my larger community or area, because they too are my brothers and sisters and even if I don’t know them personally it may well be the least of these that will cause me to stumble and fail and cause my Lord to say he doesn’t know me.
    This is definitely a very sad tale all round and my prayers go out to and are for all involved, especially the staff that will lose their jobs.
    However the truth is perhaps there is a lesson here for all of us to learn from, to consider upon and cause us to question ourselves even if we are nowhere near Inverness and have no true knowledge of the issues or situation. Community has to be at the centre of what we do, and community is larger than just those I know or who share my thoughts, ideals and feelings, because if community isn’t at the centre of what we do then I wonder if God is likely much there either.

    Hothorpe Hall – sad to see another centre downgrading from being a retailler but on the positive at least they are still going to be selling some books – let’s hope this will make for a good symbiotic relationship with another Christian Retailler so both missions can be supported and visitors to the Hall recieve some benefit from a small bookstand witness.

    Phil, you really are a wonderful and tireless campaigner with a massive heart of will to do good work and see things happen and change for the better – I’m sure 5quidforlife will grow well under your care and stewardship and I’ll pass the word along to others I know and pop something up in the shop to let more know about the initiative too.

  3. Great News about Veggies, and the Authentic catalogue in general, some really good stuff in there. Great to see Christian companies being pro-active. I saw an ad for them in one of the Teaching magazines my wife reads.

    Sad News about Hothorpe Hall, but we pray that they thrive as a conference centre and wedding venue.

    Interesting to read about 5 Quid for Life, I find the stigma surrounding mental health issues often means we marginalise these vulnerable people. Great to read about someone making a positive contribution to awareness of, and support for this issue.

    As for the Living Oasis/CLC issue, I don’t want to start saying who’s right and wrong in this one, I’m not sure it’s quite that simple, but I don’t think either party has represented themselves very well in this.

    That Living Oasis opened a shop in a town with a continuing witness didn’t seem particularly fair, but at the same time, they had always co-existed with Wesley Owen, and continue to do so in Birmingham and other places, so I don’t see it as that big an issue.

    That Living Oasis took only a short term, rolling lease seems perhaps to be indicative of the fact that there future isn’t as secure as they would like us to believe.

    That CLC waltzed in and signed the lease out from underneath them seems—if anything—even more unfair than LO’s decision to move in in the first place.

    For all of their faults, they did so with a view to preserving jobs, as much as a witness, and because the shop was “Saved” the staff have had the opportunity to continue work for a year. This, above all else, is an admirable cause and goal, and should be commended.

    If CLC don’t offer to take on those staff, then I must confess, they will fall in my estimation of them.

    If this was simply about a better building, CLC had the option to include the WO Inverness lease in the package of stores they brought from STL last Christmas.

    I don’t view CLC, Living Oasis, Wesley Owen or anyone else as “competition”, but partners. I know it’s overused, but we really are “stronger together, weaker apart”. That CLC and Living Oasis can’t get along shows a distinct lack of this attitude on both parts.

    I don’t mind CLC, but view their selection of books, and to a greater extent, their whole remit, as quite narrow, when it comes to serving the whole Christian Community.

    I fairly often hear of customers who are told that CLC won’t, rather than can’t, supply certain books.

    Perhaps things are changing, but in my experience, CLC completely disregard our catholic brothers and sisters, as well as the liberal section of the church and even the more extreme end of the charismatic spectrum too. If your views are not broadly defined as “mainstream, conservative, evangelical, protestant” then CLC isn’t necessarily for you.

    If that is still the case, then perhaps there is a need for a shop like Living Oasis in a town served solely by a CLC Store.

    I can’t comment on whether or not Living Oasis brushed off CLC’s offers to work together, or if CLC was genuine in those offers—I wasn’t there, and as you say, Phil, no-one has said anything to correct the story—but whatever transpired, as I said, neither party comes off particularly well.

  4. hear what is said above. and yes, I stand with Luke.

    I don’t view CLC, Living Oasis, Wesley Owen or anyone else as “competition”, but partners. I know it’s overused, but we really are “stronger together, weaker apart”. That CLC and Living Oasis can’t get along shows a distinct lack of this attitude on both parts.

    If we’re busy bickering among ourselves, we’re missing the bigger picture – the people. There are those who would only be seen dead in a church because it’s one big pile of rules, procedures and pre-formed judgements, but who will walk across a shop threshold because they understand the rules … and find there a place and space to read and invesigate Christianinty at their own pace and in their own time, hopefully with a trained staff who can then supplement the written word with warm human interaction and … dare i suggest … prayer.

    Surely that is ought to be enough of a spur to both CLC and LO to step up and play nice.
    Add to that the witness of conducting business with mutual repsect and fair dealings, you have to say, c’mon guys, Get it together!

  5. Pingback: CLC and Living Oasis Inverness: some questions answered « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  6. Pingback: News Roundup: Bridge Books, Exeter, for sale; Christian Resources, Leicester, on the move; Durham Cathedral (Book)shop downsizing?;and Living Oasis, Aberdeen, closing down « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  7. Pingback: News Roundup: Bridge Books, Exeter, for sale; Christian Resources, Leicester, on the move; Durham Cathedral (Book)shop downsizing?; and Living Oasis, Aberdeen, closing down « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  8. Pingback: News Roundup: Bridge Books, Exeter, for sale | Christian Resources, Leicester, on the move | Durham Cathedral (Book)shop downsizing? | Living Oasis, Aberdeen, closing down « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  9. The following Living Oasis stores are also closing:

    Bedford
    Belfast
    Southampton
    Sutton

    Other stores to be announced.

    • Thanks for this, Rollo. Disconcerting that there still seem to be no official announcements about the situation from Living Oasis. Will contact Andy Twilley again…

      • Living Oasis Sutton have announced on their facebook page they are closing this saturday – this is so sad as it’s literally just under a year since they launched the shop. Prayers and thoughts for all involved.
        Nothing on the FB pages of any of the others yet though.
        Julie Buesnel of Christian Solutions, Jersey – has been spured on by this sad sad news coming from Living Oasis Sutton that she has called for an impromptu day of prayer for Christian Bookshops this Saturday through Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114099812001380

  10. Pingback: Living Oasis: Meltdown continues as Sutton branch announces closure: call for prayer on facebook « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  11. Pingback: Living Oasis: Meltdown continues as Sutton branch announces closure: call for prayer on facebook « The Christian Bookshops Blog

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