After three decades in book business, owner looks to retire

By Jacob Mahaffey
The Budget

The landscape for purchasing periodicals has changed. Online services like Amazon have become the go-to when it comes to book buying.

However, there is still something about picking up a new book from the shelf, browsing through it, smelling the new paper, breathing deep the aroma of fresh ink and then buying it. That’s what keeps Mary Kohler, owner of Dayspring Christian Bookstore in New Philadelphia, coming back to work.

Dayspring opened its doors in October of 1988. For the first 15 years, it was known as The Gospel Bookstore Number Two. The owner at the time, Eli Hochstetler, wanted to expand from his original store into Berlin. “I saw an article in the Bargain Hunter,” Kohler reminisced. “I called him [Hochstetler] and said when he gets ready I would like to be the manager.” It was a year before Hochstetler reconnected with Kohler.

At that time, Hochstetler brought Kohler on as the store’s manager, despite her never working in a bookstore before. In 2003, an opportunity presented itself. “He decided he wanted to sell it,” she explained. “He asked me if I was interested and I said yes.”

At that point in time, Kohler changed the name to Dayspring Christian Bookstore. Dayspring offers the customary bookstore fare, Bibles and books. They also offer a lot of other things including cards, jewelry, art, and Bible personalization. They even offer collectibles like Precious Moments.

Another service they offer is church supplies. Even if they don’t have it in stock, Kohler noted that she is willing to order it in. Kohler has seen a lot of changes over 30 years. “It has been a journey of changes, the internet has become very prominent,” she stated.

However, Dayspring does offer something that Amazon can’t. “See before you buy,” Kohler shared. She has also seen changes in the styles people ask for. “When we first opened it was a bit more traditional,” she said. “Now it’s going into something more modern.”

Despite the multitude of options for book purchases, Kohler still has customers who return time after time. “We have a lot of regular customers, some have been since day one,” Kohler said. For her it’s all customers, not just the regulars but all who enter her shop. That’s what keeps her coming back. “It’s the interactions you get with the customers,” she said happily. “You may be ministering and not even know it.”

That’s the true reason for Kohler’s 30-year dedication. “It’s a great ministry,” she shared. “You get to meet a lot of great people. The ministry part of it is a great thing.” While Kohler has dedicated 30 years to this venture.

The time has come for her to let it go. However, she doesn’t want to close the doors. She is looking for someone who will buy the business and continue the ministry in the New Philadelphia store. “You won’t get rich running a Christian bookstore,” Kohler advised. “For me, it is rewarding just to know that people like to come in for the atmosphere.”

If you may be interested in purchasing the business you can call Mary at the store 330-343-4881 or visit the store at 143 West High Avenue, New Philadelphia.