Once home to a farm-equipment dealer, an Elmira site has been transformed into the new headquarters of Living Waters Christian Bookstore.
The newly completed renovations of the former Premier Equipment building west of downtown Elmira allowed the company to move from Linwood. In addition to offices, the location feature warehouse space and a retail store under one roof.
The facility joins four retail locations that offer books/reading material, indoor and outdoor games, Bibles and religious material, kitchenware and gift items, among others.
The Elmira retail operation opened its doors late last month, just in time for the Christmas season.
“It’s been really good,” says Derek Martin, a shareholder of Living Waters, about the recent move to Elmira. “It went very, very smoothly compared to what could all go wrong, so we’re very thankful and grateful for that.”
With the move to Elmira complete, Martin says that he hopes the new location will allow Living Waters to become even more accessible to a wider range of people, from Kitchener to the south and Guelph to the east, the townships, and as far as Stratford and Listowel to the west.
The business was started by Martin’s parents, Paul and Rose, in 2004 in the village of Linwood. The younger Martin describes his parents’ motivation as a calling, but for the younger Martin, Living Waters became a part of his childhood and adolescent experience. He grew up with the business, he says, and grew into it as he reached adulthood. But that only explains the ‘how’ of it.
“I’m a shareholder now, so that’s great. But really, that doesn’t define – that has nothing to do with why I’m involved in it,” explains Martin.
“Rather it’s about the message and what we’re trying to portray in this community, both to existing Christians and their walk with the Lord, but also non-Christians,” he says. “And just giving a resource, giving an access point where they can come to and find good morals, good inspirational products, and atmosphere as well that should fit that, and hopefully even exceed.”
To that end, Living Waters keeps a fine balance between offering variety while also catering to the specific needs of its customers.
“This is probably what separates us from most Christian bookstores in the market,” says Martin. “The first part here is that we have a large bible section, which there aren’t many other bookstores that have the same. And we don’t carry a large fictional line, and that is probably the biggest category in the Christian market that we see on the shelves.”
Instead, the focus is on the stories that will inspire, and help people lead full, good lives.
“A lot of day-to-day inspirational, whether it’s a devotional, whether it’s a daily calendar, and then also new releases. And then I’d say a good selection of true stories. Whether it’s miracles from around the world, whether it’s missionaries, whether it’s local events, we put a lot of true stories.”
With literally thousands, if not millions, of books in the religious canon, Living Waters makes a commitment to stocking its shelves with new releases and in-demand items, while offering plenty of other options on the shelves. The business is also happy to order in items for their customers to ensure they’re getting exactly what they’re looking for
“As a whole, we’re here to help their needs. So if they’re looking for a bible study on a particular subject, our goal is not to shift their subject into a different subject, but to find the book that best fits there need,” says Martin.
There are toys, movies, kitchenware, music and a variety of other products available at the store location, as well as online for purchase. But at its heart, Living Waters is still a traditional Christian bookstore, says Martin, with a strong commitment to values and to morals that extends to their entire line of products.
While the book and toy store is already open for business, Martin notes that they plan to have an official grand opening on November 29, 30 and December 1. Shoppers and browsers can pass by the store during business hours at 122 Church St. W., or visit the online store.