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Protect Our Independent Bookstore

$30,166 of $120,000 goal

Raised by 353 people in 7 months
Created June 12, 2018

We are Loome Theological Booksellers, as far as we know, the world's oldest theological bookstore.

You can find us on Main street in historic downtown Stillwater, the birthplace of Minnesota, on the beautiful St. Croix River and WE NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP US HERE!

Back in the 1970s, our founder, Doctor of Theology and college professor, Thomas Loome began rescuing books from dying libraries, monasteries, seminaries.  He gathered them from all over North America and England into our first brick and mortar location in the Old Swedish Covenant Church, also in Stillwater.  From there, year after year, he gave these books new lives by getting them into the hands,
and then the hearts and minds of the thousands of visitors to his bookstore.  They came, and still do, from all over the world.

Dr. Loome retired in 2008 and sold his bookstore to a couple of his employees.  Now I, Christopher Hagen, am the proprietor of Loome Theological Booksellers and I NEED YOUR HELP to keep our brick and mortar from going only mail order!

Six years ago I moved the bookstore and my growing family to a local farm to expand the available space to warehouse our collection of books and have room for new libraries and collections to process. We intended to stay there for the long-haul but, after five years, our landlord decided to repurpose the farm for his personal use and that left us with the sudden need to move.

But not just move, we had to find a place to move my family, we had to find a place to move the bookstore, we had to then move my family, and then move the bookstore.  Now, I have a large family and the bookstore was immense.  We had about six months to get this all worked out and accomplished.  However, after a troubled pregnancy, my family welcomed our seventh living child, months earlier than her due date, right in the middle of all this.  My daughter (and her visiting parents) spent months in the NICU at the hospital and finally came home to the farm under very difficult conditions.

I don't know how my family and the bookstore made it through 2017, but by the end of the year, both family and bookstore had moved off the farm and were settling into a new house and a new storefront for the bookstore.

In 2018 my family now lives in a good house in town and, my daughter, is a tiny, but very healthy 15 month-old.

At the new bookstore location, we've gone from welcoming, in a great month at the old location, about 100 visitors to the bookstore, to, in a normal month, welcoming over a thousand visitors. However, the increased sales have not been enough to overcome the financial aftershocks of getting my family and the bookstore through the storms of 2017.

That's why I need your help now.

My debt load, from the move, is now too heavy to pay and I don't see how we can continue to pay the expenses of an open shop without getting a significant amount of that debt load removed.

Our goal with this Go Fund Me Campaign is to raise enough money to pay down enough debt so that we can continue to have a brick and mortar open shop, right here, in our home, Stillwater, MN.

If you love Loome Theological Booksellers,

if you love independent bookstores,

if you love a space for strangers to meet and discuss God, the great authors, revolutionary ideas, and step back in time through the experience of our rare book collection,

if you love a bookstore that collaborates with local authors and artists to showcase what makes our St. Croix River Valley unique and engaging 

. . . then keep our brick and mortar from having to go only mail-order.

Contribute today and please tell your friends and family about our campaign.

Please send me an email if you know of donors or organizations whom you think would like to help us out.  Together we can keep this bookstore thriving on Main Street!

All monies raised will only go towards paying down debt for the bookstore.  If we raise enough money to pay down all the debt, then I will announce new fundraising goals and projects in an update.

Please pray for the work of Loome Theological Booksellers.

I will fight hard to keep this brick and mortar bookstore open here.

It is a good fight.

It is worth it.

We are worth it.
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Update 4
Posted by Chris Hagen
1 month ago
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We're still open but we still need your help!

We’ve used the campaign contributions thus far to make our debt payments the past 5 months. Thank you!

During this time we have served over 8000 visitors to our brick and mortar location. We acquired, boxed, and shipped over 50 boxes of books bound for the Pope Benedict XVI Theological Institute in Sri Lanka. These books were the 2nd installment for the most significant Catholic library in Sri Lanka. We provided exclusive distribution for the most comprehensive book on the Catholic sexual abuse crisis, SACRILEGE, (this is a dubious distinction, for we wish it was a book on a different topic!).* This book is out-of-print and we have the last available copies of this book in any quantity. Lastly, please see the earlier updates for the cost cutting measures that we've taken since this campaign began.

Where are we at?

We've run out of money to keep making our debt payments.

Please know that all the money contributed so far has been used exclusively to pay debt and not for the normal bookstore expenses (including salaries).

So, on this Giving Tuesday, this is a renewed appeal to:

CONTRIBUTE AGAIN if you are so inclined. Some of you indicated that you would give more later if there was still a need. There is still a need. We are not yet at the $120,000 goal.

TALK UP THE WORK OF LOOME BOOKSELLERS to friends and family and mention this campaign.

WRITE AN ARTICLE and submit it to your local Catholic/Christian or institutional publication.

PRAY for the souls of those who still find good and scholarly books at Loome Theological Booksellers.

PRAY for the staff of Loome Theological Booksellers for courage, humility, generosity, and prudence. PRAY for an increase in Faith, Hope, and Love.

I love all the people I meet at Loome Theological Booksellers and their satisfaction at finding good books. Most of the people who come to Loome Theological Booksellers express their gratitude that such a bookstore still exists! I completely agree with them. Please help us keep it open.


* You can order copies of SACRILEGE here (once we run out, there won't be more available): https://www.loomebooks.com/pages/books/213183/leon-j-podles/sacrilege-sexual-abuse-in-the-catholic-church

Read more about the significance of this book here: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/leon-podles-sacrilege-roman-catholic-abuse/
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Update 3
Posted by Chris Hagen
5 months ago
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I recognize an update is far overdue, but I'll explain the delay below.

The great news is that we are close to a fourth of the way to our goal of $120,000. Contributions have been coming in this summer from customers in the bookstore, checks mailed from all over the country, and online supporters.

Some more media coverage has been helpful as well:

Dave Hrbacek wrote a great article for our diocesan newspaper:
http://thecatholicspirit.com/news/local-news/stillwater-bookstore-fights-to-keep-doors-open/

Jake Meador, after recently visiting the bookstore, decided to write an article about us for FIRST THINGS:
https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/07/why-we-need-loome-theological-booksellers

Lastly, Bear Woznick, a ninja, surfer, biker, interviewed me for his YouTube channel and radio show (this interview doesn't touch on the campaign, but covers my conversion to Catholicism and work as a bookseller):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3J3BcHp8Ws&t=421s


So, where to from here? Can the brick and mortar stay open?

I wish I could say, "yes, we can stay open", but all I can say is, "yes, we are open for now." The bookstore needs all $120,000 to stay open for the long haul and we've raised enough to keep things going for another month or so.

Here's what I've been doing to keep this brick and mortar (which I love!) open:

Cut my salary by 1/3.

Picked up part-time accounting work which helps shelter and feed my family, but does take me away from the bookstore. This is why I haven't given an update sooner.

Reached out to friends in the media to help spread the word.

Negotiated with my lenders to seek terms of payment that make it possible to keep the brick and mortar open.

I let you know about these measures I'm taking to keep the bookstore open, not for your pity, but to show how important on open shop Loome Booksellers is to me.

Here's what you can do to help:

Pray for all the patrons who visit Loome Booksellers every day that they will find a life-changing book.

Pray for me; pray for courage, prudence, strength, trust, and humility, humility, humility, and gratitude.

Continue to spread the word, especially if you know of book and bookstore lovers who want independent brick and mortar bookstores to thrive. Be courageous and ask for monetary contributions!

Contribute again, if you're so inclined.

This campaign isn't over yet. The bookstore will be open through August and probably September. Thank you for your contributions of prayer, goodwill, word-of-mouth, and money thus far.

Onward!

Christopher Hagen
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Update 2
Posted by Chris Hagen
6 months ago
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What an eventful and surprising couple of weeks the start of the campaign has been!

This morning we crossed the first $10,000 milestone (only 11 more to go!).

One of the local Twin Cities papers, THE PIONEER PRESS, interviewed me this week and will be featuring the campaign on Sunday.

The campaign recently received some national attention too! ( https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2018/06/28/loome-theological-booksellers-launches-campaign-to-keep-brick-and-mortar-location-open/)

Lastly, I started a new part-time job with the goal to take some of my family's financial burden off the bookstore as well.

Most importantly, the money contributed so far paid down enough debt to keep the bookstore open into July (yes, debt matters are that tight right now!). If the campaign finishes raising the $120,000 in July, we should be good to stay open for the long haul. If not, then another decision about keeping the bookstore open will loom (pun intended) before the school year starts.

Thank you very much, all of you, for your prayers, financial contributions, spreading the word, and your photographs, comments, and memories of this beloved bookstore. I am honored by your support and greatly encouraged.

Onward!

Christopher Hagen

Please note: for tax purposes, you are not able to deduct your contribution as a donation. A friend of the bookstore recently reminded me to make everyone aware of this.
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Update 1
Posted by Chris Hagen
7 months ago
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Today is the day when I shared the campaign publically with the members of the bookstore's email list and I've been honored and surprised with the contribution amounts. Thank you all.

Onward!
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Read a Previous Update

$30,166 of $120,000 goal

Raised by 353 people in 7 months
Created June 12, 2018
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