Faith Works, 8 S. 12th St., is revamping its inventory and is in the process of getting a face-lift.
"I completely flipped the floor plan," co-owner Catherine Chavers said, noting that both the look of the store and the product selection have been reworked. "We've shaken it up. Literally, taken it cover to cover and turned it inside out. ... We're refreshing the look, refreshing the merchandise."
She said several new product lines are in the offing and speculated an expansion to inhabit more of the building the store now partially occupies could take place in the months ahead.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Catherine Chavers, co-owner of Faith Works, right, along with her daughter, Elizabeth Chavers spend some time with Pepper Lady. The mixed breed dog spends her day with the Chavers family at the store, which is owned by Catherine and Tim Chavers; their son, Benjamin Chavers also works at Faith Works.
Because it is located directly across 12th Street from Kirchner Square, Chavers said Faith Works' landlord is also upgrading the building's exterior. She said the intent is to make the appearance more in sync with the transformed appearance of the Kirchner complex. Awnings and new signage are part of the game plan.
"By the fall, by Christmas we'll all kind of look similar on the outside with just a real neat diversity of a shopping nucleus right here," Chavers said.
Faith Works is not just another shopping venue, however. The store's owners - Catherine and Tim Chavers - operate a business that is more than a commercial enterprise.
Catherine Chavers said Faith Works sells products that have spiritual and religious significance. She said she and her husband have as a major part of their agenda "to "encourage the customers' faith and their walk with the Lord."
Chavers emphasized that being the proprietors of Faith Works is in harmony with the couple's more than quarter-century commitment to help spread the Christian Gospel.
She said an aspect of that mission is "to really reach out to hurting people."
"That's the beauty of our business," Chavers said. "When we get done at the end of the day, we really sleep well because we know that we've touched lives."
The merchandise offered at Faith Works includes books, greeting cards, gifts, personalized CDs, Bibles, Bible study materials, self-help products, church supplies and much, much more.
Chavers said most of what the store sells either carries or involves a Christian message.
"I really want Scripture to be on every product," she said. "Otherwise, we're just another commodity store."
Faith Works is helping communicate a message that is 20 centuries old, but the owners' business approach capitalizes on the latest 21st-century merchandising techniques.
To maximize the store's ability to link customers to an inventory far more extensive than could be maintained on-site, Chavers said a strong emphasis on quick turnaround of special orders is a major part of the business plan.
"It takes two days to get any special order in," Chavers said. "We can get it in fast."
State-of-the-art technology is also evident in the way CDs containing music, audio books, and games are sold.
"We've built a brand-new kiosk," Chavers explained. "(Customers) can search out background CDs if they sing in churches, personal CDs - they can customize their own personal CD up to 20 songs. They get the CD right there."
She said the system hosts about 120,000 CD titles and audio books. The customer can select an existing commercial title or configure a highly individualized collection of tracks. The CD is burned right in the store using a process that takes about six or seven minutes. Labels for the finished product can also be customized and personalized.
"All of our book titles are basically from Christian wholesalers that have decided to do digital burns," Chavers said.
She said this high-tech way to obtain a product almost instantaneously has proved hugely popular.
"Some of us really do want it yesterday," Chavers said.
She also said this technology makes it possible for the store to afford customers an immense array of choices while not having to stock the huge physical inventory that would have been required to accomplish that selection only a few years ago.
An additional product option using a computer-based system is a customized CD that incorporates a child's name into a lullaby, religious song or fun situation. These CDs are also burned on-site at the store.
Faith Works traces its history to the 1970s when the store was called Mary's Book and Bible. The enterprise has had a variety of venues and has been at the current location since December 2010. It has operated under the current name for about a decade and has been owned by Catherine and Tim Chavers since July 2005. Information about the store is available through both its website - www.faithworks4u.com - and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/faithworks4u.
In recognition of the strong support for the store by patrons, Faith Works will hold a customer appreciation day Monday. There will be specials all day and a free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Meet the owners
Catherine Johnson Chavers grew up in Humboldt County. She graduated from Humboldt High School in 1983. After high school, Catherine Johnson studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill. That's where she and Tim Chavers met. She earned a degree in vocal music and church ministry. Tim Chavers, originally from Idaho, completed a pastoral studies program with an emphasis on youth ministry. They both graduated from Moody in 1987 and married the same year.
"Tim was going to be a pastor, and I was going to be his pianist," Catherine Chavers said.
Fulfilling that mission was the focus of their professional lives prior to purchasing Faith Works and involved ministries in both Iowa and Minnesota.
In addition to her work at the store, Catherine Chavers said she has been teaching music at Harvest Baptist Bible College for about three years. She said the relationship with Harvest Baptist Church is being reflected in the store through the availability of the church's counseling and ministry resources.
"We're now going to be carrying the full line and scope of their products," she said.
Chavers stressed, however, that Faith Works serves a broad, multidenominational clientele.
"If you want Scripture on your products," Chavers said. "if you believe in the one true God that we do, we want to serve you and get that in your hands. ... People are encouraged by what they find on the products and they can encourage and stimulate the faith of other people by how they select a gift."
Faith Works is very much a family project. The owners have been assisted in the store by their 19-year-old twins - Benjamin and Elizabeth Chavers - since the young folks were 12.
Catherine Chavers said making the store's resources available to the community has been spiritually rewarding.
"It really is a walk of faith," she said.