Birmingham to receive a Christian bookselling boost as CLC decide one shop won’t do: Carrs Lane premises to open Weds 6th August

CLC Bookshops Birmingham: Stephenson Street and Carrs Lane

CLC Bookshops Birmingham: Stephenson Street and Carrs Lane

PHIL BURNHAM, CLC National Director, reports:

There was a very informative post here in January about Birmingham and it’s worth re-visiting as background: Birmingham: 120 years of Christian bookselling set to continue as CLC prepare to move into former Wesley Owen premises

Now zoom forwards to the present, and after a good many delays, most of them to do with negotiations, buildings regs and health & safety issues, CLC is on the verge of opening to the public in the bookshop premises adjoining Carrs Lane United Reformed Church. Our optimism got the better of us and we indicated opening perhaps in April. Dream on… April came and went, as did May, June and even July…

In addition to the date, there have been other changes since that post. The access to New Street station just beyond the Stephenson Street branch brings thousands of people past our door each day. Thankfully not all of them come in, but it’s wonderful that enough do for our footfall and sales to have increased very significantly. Our initial plan was to gradually move all the business to Carrs Lane but that very soon changed and our strategy is to run both shops and remain at Stephenson Street as long as we can. So, yes, Birmingham will continue to have two city centre Christian bookshops for the foreseeable future, and we are thrilled at the prospect

Comparing the two shops, the Stephenson Street branch will carry more clearance lines and will concentrate on the most sought-after products. Carrs Lane will have a smaller clearance section and will cater for the wider needs of our customers. In other respects, both shops will offer the same services as any other CLC bookshop.

Surplus fittings from Carrs Lane are at Stephenson Street, at CLC Coventry and even in storage until they end up in CLC bookshops in Mozambique and/or Swaziland (if you hear of bookshop fittings going for free, please contact me.)

CLC Bookshops facebook photos: Counting down at CLC Carrs Lane, Birmingham

CLC International UK facebook photos: Counting down at CLC Carrs Lane, Birmingham

At the time of writing, things would seem to be as much in place as they can be for the Carrs Lane shop to start trading on Wednesday 6th August. Exceptionally it could be on Tuesday 5th, but publicly we’re announcing the 6th. What a saga it has been!

That said, our landlords have been very helpful and accommodating, accompanying us through the labyrinth of H&S regulations and interpretations. Certain suppliers have also been very helpful, and we trust that their support is reflected in more-than-acceptable sales volumes through the mission. The local CLC team, led by ex-CLC Aberdeen manager Neil MacLennan, have worked really hard and, all credit to them, the shop is looking really good (with help from shopfitters PointEight, plus builders & electricians).

We have moved some staff from Stephenson Street and done a bit of recruiting to plug gaps. I reckon we’re now ok for employees, but if you know of any suitable part-time or full-time volunteers for Birmingham or for a CLC centre in another part of the country, do point them my way initially and I’ll be happy to connect with them. We simply could not exist without part-time volunteers. As many of you will know, many folk in CLC – me included – are full-time Christian workers supported in prayer and finance through myriad channels. God is still calling people to serve Him in this way – even in the Christian trade through CLC.

Thanks for praying for CLC as we embark on this venture. Pray we quickly connect with customers and church leaders and meet their needs; pray that people return to b&m shopping after the former shop on the Carrs Lane site closed in January; pray that the two shops balance and complement each other and that together they meet the challenges and opportunities before us in the nation’s second-largest city.

With thanks and praise to God,
Phil Burnham
CLC National Director

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