Shepherd’s Fold has been part of the Grande Prairie landscape for a long time. How did the business get its start?
Shepherd’s Fold got its start in 1989 with Rhonda Born and Mary Buller. Previously, it was owned and operated by Ricky Buller under the name Salem Book Shoppe. Ricky started Salem on the same city block back in 1972.
What has changed over the years?
Over the years, the bookstore has been in four different locations on this exact city block. We’ve seen many forms of media – like CDs and DVDs – come and go from prominence. The diversity of books written from a Christian perspective has grown a lot over the years. Now you can find almost any genre available from faith-based publishers and authors. We also added a café in the store.
You refer to Shepherd’s Fold as a Christian bookstore. What does this mean in the way of books since not all of your books appear to be on religion.
You’re right. We stock a wide variety of books for all ages in many genres. While their subjects vary, most of these books are expressly written from a Christian perspective and involve some element of faith. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve seen Christian authors and publishers tackle a wide range of topics in different writing styles. Their faith is a guiding factor for why they write and what content they write about. We’re glad to see Christianity grapple with life in culturally relevant ways. Our children’s section also includes some general market titles that are just plain fun and affirming of family values.
Who is the book buyer, and where do you find your books?
Calvin Smith is our primary book buyer. He selects new releases for our shelves in collaboration with publisher sales reps. We also carry used books. The second-hand stock is always changing up, depending on what books have been brought to us.
One of your sections is Staff Picks. How often do Staff Picks change, and are they always books the staff have read?
Staff members oversee their own list of staff picks on our website. The lists are books that they have read and now recommend to others. The speed at which they are updated reflects how much or little we’ve been able to read as of late.
How does your Birthday Book program work? Is it just for kids or kids and adults alike?
To participate in our Birthday Book program, one needs to sign up to receive e-mail newsletters and promotions from Shepherd’s Fold. (We don’t send very many). This can be done on our website. Each valid email address can be linked to one person’s birthday. On that date, a coupon for a free birthday book will be sent by e-mail to the address. The coupon can be redeemed for any book with a price of $9.99 or less and is valid for seven days after the birthday. We don’t specify age limits, but a valid e-mail address can only be linked to one birthdate.
How does your Audio Book Membership work?
Almost all audiobooks are now obtained digitally. You can use an audiobook program such as Audible, but all profits leave your community and go to Amazon. If you’d like to use a comparable program that supports independent bookstores, try Libro.fm. It allows you to choose a bookstore, such as Shepherd’s Fold, to receive a portion of the profit from your audiobook purchases. Libro.fm is not a faith-based company, but it does have a strong selection of Christian titles available. US$14.99 buys you one credit, which can be redeemed for any audiobook title from its library.
Your #bookfacefriday on your website is just plain fun. Can you share how that got started? Is it ongoing?
We first learned about #bookfacefriday from other stores at a booksellers convention we attended. From then on, we’ve had fun trying a few of our own. Take a wander through your local library and give it a try. Getting the perfect shot is harder than it looks!
When did The Fold Café open, and have you been able to keep that going during the pandemic?
The Fold Café started about 14 years ago – wow, time flies! It had long been a part of Shepherd’s Fold’s vision for how we could serve the community around us. When an opportunity came to renovate the building, we put in a staircase and started the café. Food is an incredible way to get to know your neighbors. The café is currently on hiatus. We shut it down in response to the ups-and-downs of COVID-19 regulations and the road construction that took place in front of our store last summer. We are still brainstorming what The Fold Café will look like in the future.
What does an average day look like at Shepherd’s Fold?
A normal day at Shepherd’s Fold includes shipping and receiving stock, helping customers find products, and participating in some great conversations. We enjoy getting to know our customers, and we aspire to serve them well. As always, caring for people can be challenging and rewarding. The products we sell and the people we meet shape us, as staff, and provide daily opportunities to “love one another.”
Can each staff member mention their absolute favorite book and why they chose that?
- Rhonda: Jan Karon’s Mitford series. Believable characters practicing their faith daily in authentic ways.
- Mary: Also Jan Karon’s Mitford series! We even had a map of Mitford hanging in the backroom of the bookstore.
- Calvin: John Lewis’ March trilogy. I love civil rights stories and graphic novels. This series brings those two things together and shows how costly faith can motivate positive change in society.
- Brit: Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga. A perfect read-aloud that any age can enjoy. It tells us that family and adventure can fit together, instead of needing to escape family in order to live an adventure.
- Jen: LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. A childhood favorite.
- Address: 9925 – 100 Avenue, Grande Prairie, AB T8V 0V1
- Phone: (780) 532-3835
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Web: www.shepfold.ca