Michael and Kiomi Burks announced on Saturday that Missoula’s only retail Christian bookstore, the Garden of Read'n, is closing its doors.

Burks, who purchased the bookstore from Elwyn and Minnie Alexander 14 years ago and moved it from downtown to its present location next to Sign Pro, released figures that spelled out the financial reality that the store simply had to close due to lack of support from local churches and the public.

Burks said the sad fact is that almost anything now can be purchased less expensively online than through a local brick and mortar store, and was the main reason why the store has to be closed.

Burks granted KGVO and exclusive interview on the store's closing.

“The sales trend that we have is just one of the many, many small local businesses that are just plummeting because of less foot traffic and, face it, the lack of community support,” said Burks. “The fact is that malls across the nation and small businesses across the nation are just going away to the point where every town will be a ghost town when it comes to retail. If you don’t own a store that is strictly service-based, you’re in trouble.”

Burks attempted to allow the present tenants Brent and Kylee DeGarmo to continue to operate the store, but December, which should be the best month of the year for a Christian bookstore, actually had the worst sales in the store’s history.

According to numbers provided by Burks, the store has lost money every year since 2005, with 2018 being the worst, losing almost $147,000.

Burks said ‘effective immediately, everything in the store will be 50 percent off, except fudge and coffee, so come in and find deals you won’t find on your phone. First come, first served until all inventory is depleted.’

Burks hopes the DeGarmo’s will be able to find employment at a local church, because they both have a heart for ministry, especially to area youth.

Burks thanked all the present and former employees of the Garden of Read'n for their faithfulness and commitment to the Gospel and the store’s ministry.

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