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Freeman and Rhoda Mullet share a love for the simple, inspirational things. Their small store reflects their unique and spiritual interests. The store can serve as an uplifting experience for those feeling down in this rough economy. Inspirational words and uplifting Bible verses can be found scrolled on picture frames, coffee mugs and even T-shirts throughout the store.
Rhoda's father started the business that has become the Gospel Shop, back in 1966. "We lived just up the street and sold a few things from our home," said Rhoda. At the time the shop was called Stutzman Gospel Records and sold a few box cards, bibles and Gospel records.
In 1967, the Stutzman's determined they needed a new location for their growing store and moved into a building down the street and three years later moved again into the building which currently Alphorn Amish Gifts in downtown Sugarcreek.
One day, Freeman looked out the window of the store and saw a for sale sign on the building across the street, explained Rhoda. It was Hostetler's Dried Goods at the time and sold fabrics and sewing items. After moving into the store in 1987, Rhoda's father decided to rename the store simply The Gospel Shop. "Dad wanted a plain and simple name for the store," said Rhoda.
"My dad worked in the office until his late 80s here in the store," said Rhoda. Because Rhoda had spent the longest of her siblings working in the store it made sense for her husband to buy the store for themselves. They have been running the store together ever since.
"We started out with Bibles, books, cards and box cards," said Rhoda. As they expanded their business, they started to include small inspirational gift items, from Christian t-shirts and books, to pictures and mugs with Bible verses.
They also sell small music boxes and children's toys as well as Christian D.V.D.'s and C.D.'s. "All of those things that kind of fit together is what we sell," said Rhoda.
Accessories such as scarves are available in a variety of colors and patterns. The Gospel Shop also carries a line of Bella Taylor purses and recently started carrying a line of Montana West, western purses. "We try to keep up with the latest trends," said Freeman.
With their supply of Bibles and inspirational books, The Gospel Shop breaks away from their religious and inspirational selection and also carries some of the latest Amish fiction novels. "The ladies come in here with their lists waiting on the next book in their series," said Rhoda.
"I love to read and see all the new books that come in," said Rhoda. She enjoys picking out books to sell in her store in hopes that the customers will love them.
In the little village of Sugarcreek, Freeman and Rhoda have seen many stores come and go and they have been fortunate to keep their little business going strong. "The economy is tough. Just when you're ready to give up, people come in wishing they had a store just like this in their area," said Freeman. It's inspiring to them and keeps them going.
The economy has also led many people in to their store looking for something to lift their spirits. "With the economy being rough we have sold more Bibles and inspirational wall hangings which is pretty interesting to see," said Rhoda.
"We spend a lot of time finding things for people," said Rhoda. "People call in looking for specific things and we try our best to order it for them."
Every year the Gospel Shop holds their Anniversary sale in March, a Pre-Inventory Sale the last week of the year and participate in a Moonlight Madness sale in July and November. One of their biggest sales is the Fall Garage Sale which runs for three days in October. "This will be our 17th year doing this sale," said Rhoda. "It's a pretty huge event for us."
"Some people even plan their vacations around it," said Freeman. During the garage sale they sell items from the old garage behind their store and Rhoda and some of the women bake cookies. Women arrive early and line up for the deals Rhoda explained.
Both Freeman and Rhoda agree the best part about their business is getting to meet new people and chatting with the customers that come through the store. They have a good relationship with the community and the locals.
The Gospel Shop is located at 112 E. Main Street in downtown Sugarcreek. The Gospel Shop is open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Thurs. and Sat., and 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri. For more information call 330-852-4223.