Heritage Christian Book Store in St. Catharines may be a retail outlet, but store owner Harold Maier has a greater vision for the business. He sees it as an institution that can be a ministry to the Niagara Region.
Recent changes to the store, including the location (Heritage completed a move to the Grantham Plaza last February), the opening of a cafe, and a stage for live music and other events have been added so the store can be used to bring the body of Christ closer together in ways that even local churches can't do.
“It's a place for Christian community to gather between Monday and Saturday,” store owner Harold Maier believes. “It's a place for connecting with other Christians, and possibly non-believers as well.
“Most of us have a Church home to go to on Sunday, typically. But there is an awful lot of life that happens between Monday and Saturday, and we wanted to create a spot where you can meet and greet. Much like Tim Horton's and Starbucks have created a culture says ‘come here when you want to meet with people’, we want to create the same thing here, in a Christian environment.”
Harold sees the new cafe, and events that take place in-store on the new stage, drawing together various segments of the Christian community. Heritage is a natural, neutral site for people of faith in the Niagara Region.
“There is a large Christian community out there, and so often we get stuck in our own pockets,” Harold continued. “And even though other churches in the past have tried to create a sense of ‘let's all get together’, there's always that mentality: ‘that's them doing it’. But the Christian store here is for everybody.
“We really wanted to create a community feel here.”
Part of the inspiration behind the stage aspect of the store is Harold’s own love for music. “I've always loved music. And if you're an aspiring musician, or if you have a band, there is nowhere to play other than the bars. It kind of boggles my mind that that's really the only (kind of) venue we have.” The Heritage stage also hosts events that are non-musical in nature, as well. Anyone wishing to use the Heritage stage for any reason can contact Harold at the store.
In the short history of the live stage setup, Harold has already seen lives touched. “Some of the ministry that has happened on some of the nights have been just amazing. People being prayed for, and all kinds of stuff.” And the overall atmosphere has had many patrons sharing how they have sensed the presence of God at Heritage as well. “It’s much more than a store, it’s much more than ‘stuff’. It's a life experience. It's calming, It's peaceful. I've had many customers come to me and say, ‘I've just had a hard day and needed to find some peace.”
Heritage Christian Book Store is located in the Grantham Plaza, 400 Scott St. (between Vine and Niagara Sts.) in St. Catharines. Their phone number is (905) 937-4553. Visit their website at heritagecbs.com.