A spiritual calling led Carla Banks-Markham and her family to form what she regards as a ministry to the community.
Baker’s Bible & Bookstore, located at 10200 Grand River Ave., is a staple neighborhood business near Livernois Avenue and I-96. One of dozens of bookstores that help form a landscape of thousands of Detroit small enterprises, Baker’s has been around for 25 years.
Banks-Markham, the store’s vice president, first opened its doors with her father Walter Baker and her brother, Kelsey Baker, who is now deceased.
“People in this area and throughout the metro Detroit area, even out-of-towners, support the bookstore,” says Banks-Markham. “If you don’t come in and purchase goods from the bookstore, we will have to close. That’s why there are a lot of businesses that do close in the community – that’s why we need to support each other.”
Once boarded and abandoned, Baker’s opened to both customers and casual visitors. In the early years, Banks-Markham says the store doubled as a spot for kids and other residents to wait for the bus. Many parents have come in and thanked the owners for being a place in the community where children can wait, while reading the store’s books.
Besides obvious sellers, like bibles and religious texts from national and local pastors, the store sells spiritual cards, CDs, African-American heritage books, clergy attire and church supplies, such as communion utensils. Products include most items that come to mind “when you think of the word ‘church’ and you think of the items the church needs,” says Banks-Markham.
“We don’t have everything here, of course, but we do have the connections to get things for people,” she adds.
Angie Delbridge, a long-time customer of Baker’s Bible & Bookstore, says she stops in regularly during errands for her minister.
“I love Baker’s,” she says. “It’s my second home. My pastor knows when he sends me here it will be longer than 30 minutes. They have everything he always needs.”
Delbridge attends Brown Chapel Missionary Baptist Church on Warren Ave. She’ll often go into Baker’s and take cell phone photos to send to her pastor, Dr. Michael Grier, of items he might want to buy.
Delbridge loves the owners and appreciates the role they plan in the community.
“It’s right here in the neighborhood,” adds Delbridge. “Everybody comes here. They like (the owner’s) attitude. I had a bad day, I walked in here and Miss Carla smiled.
“That’s what they do.”
Editor’s Note: Baker’s Bible & Bookstore is located at 10200 Grand River Ave. in Detroit, MI 48204. Call (313) 933-5507 or visit them on facebook.
This Small Shops feature is sponsored by Bank of America.
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