Originally created 08/30/97

Store to sell patrons on salvation



The Christian Book Exchange has an unusual marketing plan: Its owners will give away their profits.

"There is no Christian book exchange in our area. We want to offer something new," said Leigh Anne Hargraves, 28, a co-owner of the bookstore at 529 Bobby Jones Expressway. "We want to lead others to Christ. At the worst, we will end up making money, which we will give away."

Customers will be able to trade in two titles for a new one or buy a title for about half the cover price, she said.

To get their stock started, Mrs. Hargraves and her husband, John, 27, have written Augusta-area pastors asking for Christian books and cassettes, even old magazines. They want to open on Sept. 8, with 3,000 titles. Eventually, they could fill their Martinez store with 20,000, she said.

A short time ago, starting a ministry would have been far from their minds. Mrs. Hargraves grew up going to church but was inactive for about 15 years. Her husband had only been to church two or three times growing up.

"Now we are there every time they open the doors," she said.

Mrs. Hargraves became concerned that her daughter Sydney, 10, was growing up ignorant about God and decided to go back to church.

"One of the things that softened our hearts to go back were some old books we had around the house," she said. Since returning to church, they've dedicated their lives to Christ.

The exchange is their way to share with others, she said.

The Hargraves have secured a building and paid for utilities out of their own pockets. "It's cost a fortune," she said.

They have purchased Bibles for the exchange and offered to buy books from others but were refused. Instead, they were just given the books.

"I end up crying on the way home," she said. "The world is so fast-paced. We all cut each other off on Walton Way. But there is a lot of kindness left."

They will go to anyone's home or business to pick up books, whether one or 1,000, she said.

"People get saved. We are on fire," she said.