Dena Ruggiero walked into Fr Kino’s Corner looking for a job and a little spiritual reinforcement.
“I think that the way the economy is, people are losing hope, losing faith. Places like this make me feel inspired,” she said.
Religious store owners in Tucson have noticed an increase in people coming in who have lost jobs, houses, financial stability and faith. Ruggiero, 43, and others struggling because of the economy are looking to religious stores for answers.
Ruggiero is a single mother of three young children. She had to move her family into a smaller home near Fr Kino’s Corner and thought she’d look for a job close to home.
“I would love to work in an environment like this. It would restore my faith and my hope.”
Andy Corder, 52, owner of Fr Kino’s Corner, 2716 S. Kolb Road, told Ruggiero he had no available jobs.
“A lot of people that have been away from the church for years are coming back because they are turning to the church to help with this time,” Corder said.
Many people are stepping into these stores for the first time and buying Bibles.
At Fr Kino’s Corner, Bibles are being spoken for before they get to the store.
Colleen Bridges, 46, has been working at Gospel Supplies Parable Christian Store, 5611 E. Speedway Blvd., since 2001.
Bible sales for the store have increased in the last six to eight months.
Out of every 10 transactions, about eight include a Bible, Bridges said. They are “helping people come back to the center, come back to what’s important in life.”
Although sales of expensive items have stalled, less expensive items are in high demand.
“As far as what we’ve seen in a shift of products, we see a lot more of the basics of the faith, the basic prayers, people grabbing back onto their faith at the basic level,” Corder said.
Popular items are rosaries, prayer books, prayer cards and candles.
At Fr Kino’s Corner, a book called “Pray the Rosary with Scripture Readings” costs $1.75 and is flying off the shelves.
Martha Chavez, 60, an employee at Trinity Bookstore, 3801 E. Fort Lowell Road, said that St. Joseph products are hard to keep in stock.
It is believed that burying a statue of the saint can help you sell your home. St. Joseph home-selling kits are increasingly popular.
At Casa De Inspiracion, 2536 E. Sixth St., co-owner Angie Lopez has noticed the increased popularity of other saints.
St. Martin de Porres is known for his charity for the poor and images of St. Hedwig show her holding a small house.
People are also stepping into religious stores to simply share their stories and find a place to pray.
“People will come in and sit down and just share. They find this very comforting because of all the saints,” Lopez said.
Lopez has noticed days when she is busy attending to people, but at the end of the day the money doesn’t add up.
Prayer requests are also pouring in, and Trinity Bookstore designated a prayer corner about eight months ago where people can leave slips of paper with their requests.
At Fr Kino’s Corner there is a prayer request box and the prayer corner has couches. “A lot of them are for employment and economic relief,” Corder said of the prayer requests.
Chavez has noticed that many people come in not to buy, but to look at statues, read books and listen to the religious music that plays throughout the store.
People say, “I love your store because it’s so peaceful in here,” Chavez said.
“If your world is falling apart the last thing you have is hope – hope and faith.”
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