Cathy Carpenter:
Timing is everything'

By Staff
PROFESSIONAL WOMAN Cathy Carpenter has owned The Bible Bookstore in downtown Meridian since in 1994. Carpenter says she can always spot someone looking for God, but not knowing where to find him. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
April 7, 2002
Cathy Carpenter has fond childhood memories of stocking shelves and waiting on customers at the family business, Denton's Store.
Thirty years later, she is still stocking shelves and waiting on customers at her own business, The Bible Bookstore.
In operation since 1975, Carpenter purchased the downtown landmark at the corner of 23rd Avenue and Ninth Street in October 1994.
Timing is everything
Carpenter worked at another small Christian bookstore. When the store closed, the owner started selling merchandise to the former owner of The Bible Bookstore, Bob Rawls, and Carpenter just came along.
She started working just one day a week as a sales clerk for Rawls, who was confined to a wheelchair.
Carpenter begin working more and more, learning the business from Rawls.
Her own boss
Carpenter says being a woman helped her in the beginning. She was able to get a business loan through the Small Business Center at Meridian Community College.
Another plus was that the business was already established and well-known.
Carpenter's 12-hour days are packed full. In 1997, her days become even busier when she opened a second store at Bonita Lakes Mall.
But then a thought hit her.
Carpenter credits God with helping everything work out.
Advice for others
She believes many new businesses fail in the beginning because the owner lets someone else run his or her business.
Hire good people.
A family affair
Carpenter says her husband has supported and encouraged her.
Carpenter and her husband, Bill, married in 1972. They have three sons: Will, 24, who is pursuing a master's degree at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus; Matthew, 22, a student at MSU in Starkville; and 11-year-old Peter, a student at King's Academy.
Will works at the store with his mother. Carpenter's father, Pete Denton, also works at the store and her mother-in-law, Mary Nell Carpenter, is the bookkeeper.
The family is active in Westwood Baptist Church.
Touching peoples lives
The Bible Bookstore does sell Bibles. It also offers everything from wedding invitations, accompaniment tapes for singers, church materials, parenting books, religion-based toys, games and books for children and fiction books all with a Christian theme.
Carpenter says she can always spot someone looking for God, but not knowing where to find him.
So on that Wednesday afternoon, Carpenter becomes a minister to her customer.