Lowestoft Christian bookshop is to close

The Oasis Christian Bookshop is to close after 47 years.
Manager David Willis inside the shop.  Picture: Nick Butcher

The Oasis Christian Bookshop is to close after 47 years. Manager David Willis inside the shop. Picture: Nick Butcher

© Archant 2012

It has been selling Bibles and religious books to people in Lowestoft for nearly half a century.

But another long-established town centre business is preparing to shut up shop.

The Oasis Christian Bookshop in Bevan Street East is due to close its doors for the last time next month because of competition from the internet – and people being put off coming into Lowestoft by its road system.

The bookshop, which also sells DVDS, CDS, and cards, has been based in the town for 47 years and for the last 14 it has been managed by David Willis, with help from his wife, Anne. It is run by the Lowestoft Christian Bookshop Trust which has had to make the decision to close the shop, which it leases.

Mr Willis, 52, said: “What has played a big part obviously is the internet. People can just sit at home and go on their computers and order books. We can not compete with prices such as those offered by Amazon.”

He also said a change in the road system in the town centre about a decade ago had not helped it keep a good customer base. He added: “It (the area) does not lend itself to people coming in. There was a downturn in footfall and it never really recovered. It has been a challenge to get people to come here.”

At the moment, Mr Willis said, an average of just five and 10 people visited the shop each day, whereas a few years ago – before the advent of the internet – it was much busier and sold more books.

“We were never here to make a buck – we were a ministry that reached out in the town,” he said. “People would come in for a chat. People who were at a loss in their lives would also come in for support or just to talk.

“It is obviously very sad we will be closing, especially from the ministry side.

“I would like to thank all our customers for their support.”

Mr Willis, who is originally from Bury in Greater Manchester, moved to the Lowestoft area from Cornwall where he originally got involved in running Christian bookshops more than 30 years ago.

The father of four is now facing up to a life without coming into the shop every day, and admitted he did not know what the future held for him and his wife. He said: “It is scary and exciting at the same time.”

As part of its closure plans, the Oasis Christian Bookshop, which opens six days a week and used to be based in Lowestoft High Street, is selling off its stock at a discount, with up to 50pc off some items.

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