|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2010)|
Ensign Books began in 1988 in Upland, California and has grown to become the third largest LDS retail bookstore chain in the world behind Deseret Book and Seagull Book & Tape. Ensign Books is owned and operated by Craig and Beverly Nelson. The bookstore is tailored but not limited to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ensign Books has expanded to include locations throughout Southern California including: Upland, Cerritos, the High Desert, La Mesa, Temecula, Arcadia, and an on-line site.
Idea of Forming Ensign Books
When the Nelsons moved to California, Craig was responsible for leasing stores in the Pomona Valley Center Open Mall in the late 1970s. At that time, he contacted Deseret Book to see if the company had any interest in opening a store in that mall for the LDS market within the Inland Empire. Interest was expressed by Deseret Book but never acted upon. One possible reason for the lack of interest in opening a church bookstore in the area could be because in the 1970s all stake seventy quorums were encouraged to operate bookstores to provide church material to local members. Profits made from these stores went straight to the missionary funds of the stakes.
The idea to create Ensign Books came in 1987. Since the LDS bookstore market was extremely small at the time, the intention of opening a bookstore was more for convenience and a service as opposed to a profitable venture. Another intention was so the Nelson’s eight children could learn good work ethic as well as gain a stronger appreciation for the gospel. As a side note, though all of their children have remained active in the church, they all facetiously referred to the bookstore as Mormon Prison for the amount of time spent working there.
Throughout the Years
Ensign Books opened for business on March 1, 1988 in Upland, California. This 1,250-square-foot (116 m2) business opened next to Beehive Clothing, which might have helped contribute to the success of the bookstore. Ensign Books opened its second store in Riverside, California three years later and a third store in Cerritos, California by 1992. Sequentially afterwards, Ensign Books opened a bookstore in Hesperia, Temecula, La Mesa, and Arcadia (2007). Initially the store began as a family business but with the business’ success, Ensign Books currently employs of 30 employees to compensate for the needed demand.
Contributions for the Southern California LDS Market
One function sponsored by Ensign Books was the Family Night Concerts Series. Popular church artists would come and perform their music and talents throughout Southern California. These concerts occurred once a month for six years beginning in 1998.
The Nelson’s also supervise the distribution of the Latter-day Trumpet, which is the first Southern California newspaper primarily tailored for those members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This monthly circulation began in February 2003 and covers the interests, activities, uplifting articles, and announcements of the LDS church within Southern California. The paper enters nearly 19,000 California homes and is a free newspaper intended as a service to the LDS population.