Searchlight Bookstore Rent Asssistance

UPDATE (July 29th) We reached our goal and then some! Thank you! Thank you! Because we went over the extra will be used for incidental costs during the 6 weeks we were closed: (a) phone (b) electricity (c) insurance, (d) security system monitoring and (e) point of sale terminal rental.

This fundraiser is now closed at this time.

----Background story----

Searchlight Christian Books has been serving Cobourg, Ontario since September, 1995. When the COVID-19 crisis happened the store was forced to close for about six weeks. The store received federal assistance to help with paying bills, but did not qualify for the provincial 75% rent assistance program.

To understand why the store didn't get help in 2020, one has to go back to Spring, 2019. The store experienced a very unusual drop in sales in three critical months: April, June and December. (The spreadsheet showing monthly sales goes back to 2007, and there aren't worse instances of April and June to be found.) After December, business returned to normal, but then the pandemic happened.

To qualify for rent assistance, businesses had to show a drop in sales revenue from the previous year of 70% over the months of April, May and June. With May, 2020 being a "zero revenue" month, that should have been easy. But mathematics wasn't working in the store's favor. Because two of those comparison months -- April and June, 2019 -- were so poor, it looked like the drop in sales hadn't happened.  Close, but not enough to qualify.

So a full month's rent has to be paid, even for that "zero revenue" month in May. The difference is approximately $4,000 but we're trusting the store can make up the other half if the community and other interested people can help.

Searchlight provides support through publicity, referrals and product discounts to churches and church-related organizations. Additionally, customers receive free counsel or referral to agencies that can help.  Although structured under a business model, Searchlight is basically a labour of love, and while part-time staff get paid, Paul and Ruth Wilkinson draw no salary from the business. In terms of profit-and-loss, two of the last three years showed an annual loss. Paul also writes a blog which has, for ten years, provided consultation and networking for owners and managers of similar stores across Canada.

While some financial support from people who are familiar with our store in particular or this type of ministry in general will provide much-needed assistance, it will also provide some much-needed encouragement; a sense that Paul and Ruth and the staff aren't in this alone.


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Paul Wilkinson 
Cobourg, ON
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