Closed on Sunday

Yet for some business owners, being open on Sunday simply isn’t an option because of their faith.

Shuttering retail doors may seem impractical to some during the current recession. That doesn’t stop two national chains – Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby – from closing every Sunday despite missing out on sales that undoubtedly go elsewhere. Chairmen Truett Cathy of Chick-Fil-A and David Green of Hobby Lobby state as part of their companies’ corporate philosophy that Sunday sales aren’t an option.

National retail outlets only show part of the picture. Elsewhere small business owners set aside Sunday as a day of worship and rest.

Will Osgood
Piper’s Café and Grand Manor

Will OsgoodThe long hours and competition experienced by a restaurateur aren’t new for Will Osgood. He has been in the restaurant business in various forms for 38 years and is proud of the homemade bread and fresh-cut vegetables served at his establishment on the south side of Indianapolis.

He’s also proud of the fact that he stays closed on a day where he puts his faith first.

“The restaurant business is crazy,” Osgood said. “I usually work 50, 60, sometimes almost 70 hours a week. On Sunday, it is hard sometimes to get up and go to church with that kind of a schedule. As Christians, I feel it’s really important for us to spend Sunday as a day to worship and spend with family to rest and recuperate.”

Being open on Sunday used to be a habit for Osgood when he opened Piper’s in 1988. “I did not know the Lord at that time, and we were open on Sundays and had a good number of customers,” he said.

Problems with soaring debt prompted him to close the restaurant in 1994, and he attributes his faith to pulling him and his family through to the point in 2003 where he was able to re-open at a different location. For the past two years the business has enjoyed ownership of its building, where his wife, two daughters and son all play roles in managing the business.

“We used to be open for brunch on Sunday and had some huge turnouts,” Osgood said. “We have a lot of people remember that and tell us we should do it again. We have a church that meets here on Sunday and I stop by to make sure they’re doing OK, and in the half an hour I’m here I’ll get three calls from people looking for reservations that day. God is the one who brings us increase so we can make up what we may miss on Sunday over the other six days.”

Osgood quotes Matthew 6:33 as one of his guiding principles.

“I believe it’s all about having a Kingdom mentality,” he explained. “If you focus and do in your business what you need to do and commit to the Lord, God takes care of your needs.”
Cases in point, Osgood said, are his 2009 sales to date.

“January and February are usually the slowest time of the year in this business,” he said. “Our sales are up over October and November, which ordinarily wouldn’t seem to make sense. No matter what happens with the economy or the government, Kingdom rules and Kingdom laws are what apply. They are in a world that is diametrically opposite to the world we live in.”
It’s a message Osgood is open to sharing with his employees as well.

“Sunday is a day of rest and we encourage our staff to be with their families,” Osgood said. “We’ve been able to hire people and work with people who may have never set foot in a church or really been exposed to Christ. It’s a privilege to be able to show them the love of God.”

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Jason Howard
Ross Furniture
Dover, N.H.

The sign on the front door of Ross Furniture and on the home page of its Web site says it all: “Closed Sundays: See you in church.”

It’s a tradition that started when the store opened in 1942 and continues today through handovers of ownership to the current proprietor, Jason Howard.

Howard, 48, proudly discussed how he has been with the business for 36 years since he began working at the store sweeping the floors at age 12. Howard even joked that his employment started earlier than that.

“I guess you could say I’ve worked here before I was born since I was in the womb when my mother worked dusting the furniture here,” he said.

Howard bought the store in 1997 and can’t remember a time when the store’s signature phrase wasn’t on letterhead or the side of delivery trucks.

“This has always been a family-oriented business,” Howard explained. “Sunday is a time that should be spent with family and with God. What has changed, especially during these times, is giving thanks to God for His love in your life. It’s my personal belief that especially now if we did that the economic problems would take care of themselves.”

Howard sees the recession as the result of man-made greed and as “something we have done to ourselves.”

“In the Old Testament, it took the Jewish people a long time to figure out they weren’t listening to what they needed to. We’re kind of the same way. (Being closed on Sunday) is my little way to give God back the attention He deserves.”

Dover is located about an hour away from Boston with a population of about 35,000. Howard says he consistently receives compliments about the policy from new customers.

“Some people walk in who have never been in the store before and say there’s a feeling they like in here,” Howard said. “To me, it’s the presence of God they’re feeling.”

Howard says he has received push-back from a prominent furniture supplier about the store’s policy but that he doesn’t let it faze him.

“We’ve always been able to get what we need Monday through Saturday,” Howard said. “I believe as long as we’re honoring God in what we do, we’re going to be fine. My goal is to inspire people. We’ve had the ability to bring in people over the years to work for us who haven’t always been in the best circumstances and try to help them out.

“It’s not just a furniture store to me. It’s the ability to use faith to help you do the best for everyone else.”

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Scott Veerkamp

Scott VeerkampScott Veerkamp was at a low point in his professional life on March 8, 1993. He had piled up a mountain of debt over deals gone bad with Russian businessmen who he believes were connected to the Mafia. He was driving to a second interview with Chuck Morgan, the owner of C.P. Morgan Homes, in attempt to restart his real estate career.

In his first interview, Veerkamp had stated God was a priority in his life. On his way to the second interview, he said he pulled to the side of the road on the interstate and asked God to renew his life and help him straighten out the problems he had created.

“I was a mess,” Veerkamp recalled. “I cried out to God, ‘I need help to be the Christian young man you need me to be.’ I pulled myself together and got to the interview.

“Chuck asked me in the interview, ‘You told me God was No. 1 in your life. What’s the real story?’ I lowered my head thinking about what I had prayed on the interstate. At that point, Chuck opened up his Bible and shared the Lord with me. It saved me. The Lord entered my life at that point.”

Tremendous change didn’t happen right away, however.

“My first year as a Christian was in new home construction where I thought I was going to make a whole bunch of money. I just about starved. It was because the Lord knew I needed to start building character first. It was a humbling experience and a wonderful experience at the same time.”

Veerkamp ventured into the residential realm in 1994 with Century 21 and his current employer, Remax, in 1996.

He and his wife made the decision in November 1997 to not operate on Sunday to spend more time with their children and commit more time to their faith. Veerkamp felt his devotion was rewarded in 1998 when he became the top Remax seller in Indiana and subsequently purchased his own franchise in 2000.

“I have zero doubt in my mind that God rewarded me for doing that. The fact that I carved out a day for me and my family and in faith believed that he would take care of me was rewarded and I still believe that.”

There was still outside pressures that came to bear.

“What I anticipated was heat from clients not being able to get me on a Sunday. What I didn’t anticipate was real-life persecution from other Realtors. ‘What do you mean you’re closed on Sundays? It’s the biggest day of the week for real estate.’ However, I didn’t get any heat from Remax or my broker at the time.”

Following biblical tithing principles have also been an important factor, Veerkamp said.

“The tithing aspect is about faith and trusting him at his word that if he’s my provider, my business isn’t going to tank. Malachi 3:9 speaks specifically to the tithe and to blessings from heaven that my cup won’t even be able to contain it. I certainly have been able to see that in my life.”

Veerkamp added he is not “legalistic” about his policy. If an out-of-town client only has Sunday to look at a house, he will show it. “What will happen, though, is that my office will absolutely be closed on Sunday. Other agents know now that it’s hard to get a hold of me on Sunday.”

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