FAIRVIEW – What sets Family Bookshelf and Gifts apart from other bookstores and gift shops is that it isn’t a retail business at all. It is a non-profit ministry.

Run by Oasis Ministries since 1987, the Bookshelf ministry not only serves its faith-based
clientele but also helps out the needy in third world countries by selling products made by artisans in those places.

“We started out selling fair trade items,” explains store manager Linda Holberton, who has been with the store for seven years now. “These items come from third world countries. The idea is to help people there earn a living for themselves.”

Fair trade products are sold at a fair price. That means they are not inexpensive. They are one-of-a-kind items. One fair trade company the ministry deals with sells products to help abused and homeless women in particular.

“We have some customers who come in and that is all they buy are fair trade items. So, we have lots of different fair trade items, including chocolates, coffee, baskets, carvings, textiles and jewelry.

“That was the whole idea behind this bookstore was to create a place where people could buy good Christian books, bibles, and then we could help people support their families.

”With the situation the way it is in the world, there are a lot of women who are lefton their own. Whether they can make enough money so they can eat and have their children go to school, that’s everything.”

The bookstore carries a wide variety of Christian books — fiction, children’s books, books on subjects like grieving, etc. — a good selection of bibles, mugs, greeting cards, plaques and many other gift items. They also have some Christian DVDs and music CDs.

“I love meeting people and helping them find things,” says Linda, who works with two assistant managers and five volunteers who, she says, she loves. “We really appreciate our customers. And we can special order things for them.”

The Family Bookshelf & Gifts is located at the blinker light in the center of Fairview.

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Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at www.betweenthepines.org.

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