“Emmanuel Gift Shop is not only a store where people can buy Bibles, books, Christian wall art and tasteful gifts. The store is a ministry where we sometimes just listen and often pray for our customers.”
Karen Phibbs, co-owner of the shop.
By DANIELLE REID
Karen Phibbs shared how a woman, struggling with life in general, came into the Emmanuel Gift Shop. A local pastor and his wife were there, and they all took the time to listen and pray for the woman. Phibbs smiled as she recalled that before the woman left the store, she had given her heart to the Lord.
Co-owner Debbie Ayers recounted some of the difficult questions customers ask.
“If we don’t know the answer, we will find out and let them know,” she said. “Recently someone came in with a heavy heart and wanted to find salvation. Thinking that he was not good enough, he asked ‘What do I have to do to change to be acceptable?’ He was thinking that God was the Judge with a big hammer and not the living, loving God.”
Ayers and Phibbs are the current managers of Emmanuel Gift Shop, which has gone through numerous changes in ownership and location since its inception 26 years ago.
“The changes in products have been unreal going from 8-tracks, cassettes, CD’s and now vinyl. But we try to spoil our regular customers by catering to their needs and laying books aside we know they would like. Our clients are more like family than customers,” explained Ayers.
“On April 15, 1995, Pastor Carson Linkous and his wife Kay had a vision of opening a Christian bookstore in Pulaski. Kay had a penchant for buying books and said opening their own bookstore was Carson’s way of keeping her from spending money in someone elses’ store. They consulted with one of their church members, Wanda Waller who had worked in Amen Bookstore. Together, they opened Emmanuel Bookstore in the Hubb Furniture building. But after a year-and-a half of being a pastor and working full time for Marshall Welding they decided to sell the bookstore,” said Phibbs.
Emmanuel was purchased by the Linkouses’ daughter Carolyn and Chuck Howell and her sister Jean and husband Danny Keith. Almost immediately, they had to vacate the Hubb building when Rite Aide purchased the property.
Emmanuel was relocated in the old Sydney’s building behind Hardees on East Main Street.
About the same time, brothers Mark and Steve Horton built the building where Pulaski Appliance is located; and later sisters Carolyn Howell and Jean Keith, working with the Horton brothers, opened Emmanuel Bookstore adjacent to Pulaski Appliance.
Today, the bookstore is operated by Debbie Ayers and Karen Phibbs.
In 2018, the management team decided to make a name change for the store because some people were unaware that Emmanuel also carried gifts, along with Bibles, books and music. A new name and logo were designed with the help of their Facebook followers and the name was changed to Emmanuel Gift Shop.
“Many people don’t realize we carry a wide variety of gifts such as Willow Tree Angels, the Giving Bears, Christian wall art, Christian memorabilia, and music. Our most common purchases consist of our line of Bibles. We carry KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NLT, Amplified, NASB, HCSB and The Message Bibles. Our book line consists of fiction, non-fiction, commentaries, Christian living, Bible studies and more,” explained Phibbs.
Emmanuel Gift Shop is celebrating 26 years in Pulaski from Thursday through Saturday this week by holding drawings for 5-percent to 25-percent off store purchases, door prizes including inspirational Christian wall art, and refreshments.
“We want everyone to visit, sign up for the drawings and door prizes and join us for a fun weekend. Emmanuel has been a wonderful business for us, but we rejoice when people leave with a smile instead of the weight of the world on their shoulders,” stated Phibbs and Ayers.
They encourage people to view their Facebook page where they broadcast every day at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and introduce new products and promotions.