As for us all, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the plans to operate and expand the Christ Cathedral Shop.
But Steve Peters, who operates the store, is moving forward cautiously. Earlier this month, he extended the store’s hours to seven days a week and launched a new store website, christcathedralshop.com.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” says Peters, who with his family also operates a Fountain Valley store, Catholic Books & Gifts, and an international website, catholicfreeshipping.com. “It’s going to be slow until COVID-19 numbers go down. Still, people are coming in and want to return to life as normal.”
The Christ Cathedral Shop is now open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Our business is a service to the community,” Peters explains. “We want to spread the faith and for the faithful to be knowledgeable about Catholicism.
“At the same time, we try to make the store welcoming for everyone,” he adds. “We have a lot of visitors come in who used to attend services at the former Crystal Cathedral.” They too can find something they like, he says, among the souvenirs, religious items, spiritual and prayer books, and jewelry.
It’s been a long road back from the store’s closure. After opening on May 13, 2019, the store was fully functional during the cathedral’s dedication in July 2019. The pandemic closed the store on March 18, 2020.
“Everything was so uncertain,” Peters recalls. “The news was changing every day. In the beginning, we wondered if we would ever reopen.
“We furloughed everyone from the cathedral store,” he continues. “When we reopened on June 14, 2020, it was just me working there.”
Starting with Sundays, the store gradually opened, adding hours during the weekends, then on Fridays, and finally in early April 2021 was back to full-time operation.
The store’s full-time hours and new website are designed to assist both loyal local customers and the tourists who visit Christ Cathedral from all over the world.
“Before the pandemic, tourists were coming from all over the country, and throughout the world,” Peters observes. “Then there are people who used to drive out to the other [Fountain Valley] store and discover that this one is closer. They tell me they love what we carry, and that the store brings them closer in devotion to the cathedral.”
The new website offers several sections for bestsellers, specific items and books and gifts for occasions and devotions, like items perfect for worship and prayer in the Year of St. Joseph, he adds.
“Since Pope Francis declared the Year of St. Joseph everything related to St. Joseph is selling well,” Peters says. “They can’t make the items fast enough.” Especially popular is a statue of St. Joseph sleeping, which he says is Pope Francis’s favorite.
Another bestseller is the new book by Fr. Quan Tran, parochial vicar of St. Bonaventure Parish, called “The Imitation of Mary,” which the local priest has been marketing with appearances in Diocese of Orange parishes.
In the future, Peters says, he wants to improve and expand the ChristCathedralshop.com website – for instance, adding Spanish and Vietnamese language materials – to make it the best of any U.S. cathedral. “We want the site to be inclusive to all.”