SUNBURY — It took a leap of faith and a nod of reassurance for Nancy Ney to take a deep breath and commit to keeping the family business going — years after she and her husband retired and left it. left behind them.

The Bible Depot, 122 N. Front St., Sunbury, was started in 1931 by Ney’s father-in-law, James C. Ney, selling Bibles, church supplies and gifts. Nancy and her husband, David A. Ney, took over the business in 1970 and ran it for 30 years before selling it and retiring to Florida.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. David died in 2008, Nancy moved back to Pennsylvania in 2009, and a year later the new owner of the Bible Depot fell ill and could no longer operate the store.

“It was either losing it completely or trying to restart it,” Ney said, but she was reluctant to take on the job, this time on her own. “I was in my 60s and I was like, ‘No way’.”

She prayed and asked for a way to know she was doing the right thing. At the time, the store somehow lacked the printing machine that personalizes Bible covers for customers. A new one costs $3,000 – more money than Ney could muster. She bid $100 for a used one, realizing she was going ridiculously low.

“Then the owner called and said, the weirdest thing happened,” Ney said. “Everyone backed out of their offers.”

The machine was hers, and she had her peace of mind.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m not scared,” she said. “I know God is with me running the store.”

She set out to relearn the trade, but things had changed over the past 10 years.

“All I had was a calculator, pencil, paper and a big eraser,” she said with a laugh. “Oh my God, that was pitiful.”

She called a supply company to ask for a catalog, and the rep said, “Oh, honey, we haven’t had a catalog in eight years.”

But she stuck with it and over the years a number of volunteers have entered the store and offered to help – another sign she says the store is meant to be open. She mentioned longtime volunteers Gary McNeir, Shirley Yagel, who eventually took over accounting, billing and ordering Sunday school supplies, and social media advertising volunteer Michelle Melachrinos.

“Her and Shirley and everyone else are all a big part of the Valley,” Melachrinos said of Bible Depot. “They are very sensitive and caring and pray for people.”

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday and Wednesday, and Ney is usually there every day, but she loves it.

“It’s like a family,” she says. “It’s a warm place.”

Wide selection of items

The Bible Depot’s bestsellers include books, children’s books, jewelry, plaques and Bibles.

“People like the idea that we print the Bibles for free,” Ney said.

The store offers a range of Jewish items including the Hebrew Bible, jewelry, menorahs and banners. Customers appreciate the DVD and audio library, where they can borrow from a selection of 1,200 films and CDs.

Surprisingly, most of their sales are in person rather than online. Regular customers stop in for birthday and wedding gifts, boxed cards, individual cards, and gifts for Christmas, graduation, baptism, and other special occasions. The store attracts customers from as far away as Williamsport, Ashland and Middleburg.

“If you’re looking for something special, she has a great variety,” said Bible Depot sales clerk Ashley Fetter. “If it’s something she doesn’t have, she’s very accommodating in finding it for you.”

“I love Nancy,” said Peggy Walter, whose mother often told her that Nancy’s stepfather would drive across town to deliver the white Bible she wanted on her wedding day. “They are great people and they will do whatever they can to help you.”

More recent sales include Bibles in large print and even jumbo print. Ney also sells Filament Bibles, which combine a printed book with a digital app that can scan any page to provide maps, devotions and study notes. She also saw more interest in inspirational articles.

“A lot of people are looking for things to encourage others in their faith. A verse to remind them that this is about more than this world,” she said.

Whatever they’re looking for, chances are they’ll find it at Bible Depot.

“It’s one of those stores where every time you turn a corner there’s another room,” Fetter said. “It’s not just Bibles. These are greeting cards, checkbooks, activity books, jewelry, baby items. There is a bit of everything here. »

Expressing her gratitude that the doors of the business had been reopened to her, Ney smiled as she glanced at the abundance of items and said, “You can’t not love selling such beautiful things. “

Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email your comments to [email protected]