Bible store owner sells more than books

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— After spending most of her life as a housewife, Deanna Berry decided a few years ago that it was time for a change, so she bought a bookstore.

Berry, 64, lives in Yampa, but runs the El-Shaddai Bible & Bookstore in Oak Creek five days a week.

Berry has owned the bookstore for 14 years. The bookstore was formerly a Steamboat Springs business that moved to Oak Creek because rent was too high.

"I didn't start it, but I kept it going," she said. "We're the only Bible bookstore in all of Northwest Colorado."

Not long after the bookstore moved to Oak Creek, while it was the building next to Bonfiglio's Drug Store and the owners were preparing to move again, Berry seized the opportunity to become a small-business owner herself.

"I got it for $5,000, and let me tell you, it was pretty sad, there wasn't very much in the store," she said.

Berry beefed up the inventory during her first couple of years by going to local Christian Booksellers International Conventions. That's a practice she has continued to this day, because going to the conventions helps keep her bookstore current with the trends in Christian culture, such as the "What Would Jesus Do?" movement a few years ago.

"I just wander around and check it all out," she said.

Right now is a tough time for Berry because people are so busy in the summer and business has been slow.

"Last week, I sold one card per day," she said. "I just tell myself that the Lord wants me here, He'll keep me here somehow."

In addition to selling the world's all-time best-selling book, the Bible, Berry also sells greeting cards, gifts, pictures, yarn and her own knitting creations, which include sweaters, shawls, hats and needlepoint work.

Berry also is happy to teach classes for people who want to learn how to knit, crochet, cross stitch or needlepoint.

"All you need to do is stop in and say you want to learn," she said.

In addition to all the other items she sells and makes, Berry frames pictures in the back of her store.

"You have to be able to do a little bit of everything to stay open," she said.

Berry says she didn't buy the bookstore to make money; she wanted to keep the store open for the community members of South Routt County, and she thinks she has a good relationship with the community.

"Even though I don't live here, I feel like I know more about this town than my own," she said.

Berry said that any five-minute trip she takes usually stretches to 15 or 20 minutes because she ends up stopping and talking to everyone.

"It's a friendly little town, and that's the way it should be," she said.

Elizabeth Flaharty of Oak Creek has known Berry almost as long as she has been in business.

"She's like a grandma to everyone," Flaharty said.

Flaharty is glad that Berry's business has been on Main Street for so long.

"I think it's an awesome place for gifts, books or crafts, and it's fun to just check out," she said.

In addition to being friends with Berry, Flaharty is also a religious customer of the bookstore and estimates that she probably has bought everything Berry sells.

"She has some really neat stuff there," she said.

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