A Bookstore with Much More to Offer
Growing up and living in Maine, roughly a nine hour drive from here, I had never heard of Sunbury let alone am I familiar with the neighborhood at all. Although I attend college in Pennsylvania, I don’t typically leave the small town of Selinsgrove or explore to different towns. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even really grow up around bookstores and I don’t have much experience with bookstores at all, though I maintain a certain level of respect high enough to enroll in a class about them. With these two things in mind, I knew this assignment was going to be a bit of a challenge, but after snooping around the seemingly small and sleepy neighborhood, I knew it wouldn’t be anything I wasn’t capable of.
The first thing I realized on this little adventure is that if I hadn’t been focusing on the Bible Depot specifically, I would’ve driven by it without a second thought hardly noticing it was there (mostly because I’m unobservant). Though the sign in front is large, the building is not too different from the ones surrounding it. The Bible Depot is nestled in a line of other buildings, primarily houses, along the Susquehanna River in Sunbury, PA.
Upon driving around the neighborhoods, I noticed it wasn’t particularly wealthy looking. After some research I found that to be true with the average household income being around $32,000, according to the Data USA (Data USA). This is primarily due to the fact that most employment opportunities in this area come from Healthcare services and social assistance. This lines up with what I noticed in the area. Pins on the map in yellow are law services near in the area as well as there being a county courthouse and a prison down the street from the bookstore, leading me to believe it might be a high crime area. With this being said, there are also a large amount of independent food services, a newspaper headquarter, and a grocery store, and a high school right in the neighborhood as well.
Taking all of this into consideration, I wasn’t quite sure what a bookstore was doing in this neighborhood let alone what purpose a Christian bookstore like the Bible Depot would serve in a low income area like this. After walking the streets for an hour, I took count of about six places of worship on the outskirts of the neighborhood alone, one being a Jewish synagogue and another an Islamic center.
After walking into the bookstore, the first thing I noticed was it wasn’t just books, and definitely wasn’t just bibles. The first stand facing the door currently is actually just a typical commercial Valentine’s day stand. They have a large selection of commercial products such as greeting cards, candy, religious jewelry, etc. but also carry a large selection of items that a church itself would need. I took note of communion necessities, books, church sheet music, as well as children’s games and even a jewish section. This took me by surprise because my mind interpreted the name of the store to be some sort of warehouse of bibles. With all that being said I’m not sure how much of it is reaching its intended audience. Although there are jewish items, a large section geared towards retirement, and even people in the military, with the stores name I’m not sure what would drive someone who isn’t a Christian to step into the store if they hadn’t already previously heard of it. So with that being said I believe most of their business must come from the surrounding places of worship as well as frequent customers.
Another thing to note about the store is that not only is it surrounded by regular houses and apartments, but it looks like one too on the inside and out. Walking through this store was truly like walking through a home that just happened to have a lot of stuff in it. Because of this, once again if I wasn’t previously aware of the store I don’t think anything would draw me in. But, it does give you the homey and personalized feeling that so many people are in search of when shopping for anything, especially books. This gives me another reason to believe they maintain a steady flow of frequent shoppers.
So all in all, though the Bible Depot doesn’t look like much from the outside, it certainly does pack a punch. The bookstore has everything its neighboring houses of worship could need as well as practicing citizens around it.
Google Maps: Bible Depot
Data USA “Employment by Industries”