Written by Emma Weber // Photo by Macy Cox
This year, the Harding University Bookstore is going through major changes regarding their offered merchandise.
In an email to Harding faculty and staff July 25, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Services David Hall announced that the bookstore would no longer carry religious materials such as church curricula, communion and church supplies. The decision was made after years of consideration.
“The decision has not been an easy one, but the ultimate conclusion was inevitable,” Hall said.
The decline in demand is, in part, due to the lingering effects of COVID-19. The increased access to online options has led to lowered options for in-person access to materials. COVID-19 highlighted alternative
options that have persisted.
“New buying habits post COVID-19 and the rise of online purchasing have caused our church supply sales to decline by nearly 80% over the last decade,” Hall said. “The bookstore is part of the Harding ecosystem, and our profits and/or losses directly impact
the cost of education on our campus.”
Financial decline was the leading cause behind the pulling of church materials in the bookstore. However, there was a lack of knowledge about the resources available to those seeking curricula and religious materials. Senior Amy Reiser, devotional director
for women’s social club Pi Theta Phi in fall 2022, said she had to find resources online
or through word of mouth for the events she planned for her social club.
“As devo director, I mainly used resources I already had or that were online,” Reiser said. “If I had known about resources in the bookstore, it would’ve definitely been a helpful and accessible option for me.”
The bookstore will make accommodations for churches who relied on their material. Operations Manager Angela Shaw said these churches will all be referred to another supplier.
“We are referring all of our customers to 21st Century Christian Bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee,” Shaw said. “They have been providing church curriculum for 85 years and can be counted on to provide fast and friendly service to all of their customers.The changes will mostly impact small churches who have continued to rely on us for their curriculum needs. Those who were nearby or within driving distance liked to come in and pick up supplies – and save on shipping – so they will be most affected by the change.”