Book ends: 150 years of reading
By Samantha Bengs
After 40 years of business in downtown Red Wing, the Christian Book Store has closed its doors for the final time. Owners George and Rose Hintz closed their store May 9.
“Things fell into place about a year ago,” George said. “Our lease was up this spring, and we felt the timing was right for us to retire.”
The Hintzes first opened their bookstore, specializing in faith-based gifts, books and music, in 1974. The Christian Book Store was located in the basement level of the St. James Hotel for its first year, then moved to Main Street, and in 1998 relocated to the final location on Bush Street, where the community has had some form of a bookstore for 150 years.
“Looking back, technology was a big change for us,” George said of their store. “When we first started out, we went from inventory control on index cards to microfiche and then to computers. We’ve seen it all over the years.”
Not only did the Hintzes face changes in technology, but variations of products kept them on their toes.
“The Bibles started out as just black leather, then grew to different materials, and now are offered in all sizes, colors and different translations,” Rose said.
In addition to Bible sales, baptism, christening, confirmation and laser engraving items were steady in the store.
“The personalized engraving really grew to be popular,” she said.
With retirement opening a new chapter in their lives, the Hintzes will continue to be active community members, just playing different roles, they said. Between grandchildren, projects at home and volunteering, George and Rose plan on keeping busy.
“We are looking forward to exploring many of the volunteering opportunities in Red Wing,” she said.
They also hope to explore some traveling aspirations, including destin- ations of Australia and the Middle East.
The recent road construction in Red Wing is familiar to George and Rose Hintz.
“We survived a similar construction project 30 years ago, when Main Street was redone with sidewalks and streetlights,” he said.
The importance of tourism in Red Wing should never be overlooked, they said, citing that at least one third of their business came from foot traffic and out-of-town customers.
“Retail can survive,” she said. “We persevered and were patient.”
With the doors closed to customers, the Hintzes are focused on donating displays and fixtures as they prepare to leave the storefront at the end of May with finality.
“We’d encourage anyone interested in the fixtures to come see us,” he said.
As George and Rose welcome retirement, their presence as business owners and their specialty products will be missed, customers and Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce members have said.
“We were the last independent (faith-based) book store in southeastern Minnesota,” George said. “Beyond the corporate stores in the Twin Cities, the closest independent shop is in Albert Lea.”
“People felt relaxed here, they could come in and feel peace,” Rose said.