FAIRFIELD – The adage follow your heart couldn’t be truer when it comes to faith and business.
The livelihood and success of this small downtown store is the story of a community’s love and commitment to their faith and their desire to keep alive a small local business with which they feels a sincere personal connection.
Touch of Faith Catholic Gifts, founded in 1996, has operated in the same location in downtown Fairfield since the religious establishment opened at 725 Jefferson St.
Customers of Touch of Faith Catholic Gifts find a space that, while not a church, is sort of an extension of it. It is an oasis of peace in a place full of images and objects intentionally beautiful and serene.
There is Bibles, books, rosaries, crucifixes, statues, medals and many other inspiring gift items.
It is a place where generations of families come in and often remember, remembering their days at school, baptisms, communions and family celebrations.
Client Judy Vigil of Fairfield is a long-time client.
“I have been coming here for years for the Baptism and First Communion of each of my four children,” said Vigil. “Gifts are keepsakes.”
Virginia Marshall doesn’t deny that it hasn’t been a challenge since opening as sole proprietor in 2018.
Nowadays, with e-commerce, combined with the decrease in the number of practicing Catholics, it is more difficult to attract shoppers in-store.
Despite Touch of Faith’s long tenancy in downtown Fairfield and the Catholic population of over one million in 20 northern California counties, it is still a relatively obscure and unknown small store. Passers-by are often surprised and delighted to discover the store. So many times a local person exclaims, “I didn’t know this store was here,” before walking away with a new, precious purchase.
Changes have been made to modernize the shopping experience through the use of updated technology and social media. Now, with Google and Facebook, Touch of Faith is more detectable thanks to the search function “Catholic store near me”.
This often brings clients from towns outside of Solano County. Visitors drive to shop at Touch of Faith, then head to Texas Street for a bite to eat.
Social media helps, but a positive experience and word of mouth promotion are best, Marshall said.
The owner said she was grateful for the strong tradition of good customer service that previous owners had established before her. She also gratefully acknowledges the goodwill and desire of customers to see the store succeed in Fairfield.
When the pandemic closed the store completely, Marshall said she was worried, but said her faith in God gave her courage. She knew that faith would require the doors to be opened again in churches and in her store. With new safety and sanitation protocols in place, the doors finally reopened and customers began to return.
A small redevelopment has been made inside the store; different product lines have been introduced to offer variety and new looks, creating a pleasant shopping experience for old and new customers.
Marshall sets out in search of beautiful and unique pieces to bring back.
“Everyone loves their religious things,” Marshall said. “Who doesn’t appreciate having a car or motorcycle Guardian Angel visor these days on the road? We need these visual reminders to stop, say a prayer, and be kind to each other. “
The business mission is to provide prayer and life-giving aids for each client’s individual needs that begin with Sunday worship lessons in church. Its objective is also to provide reliable and reliable information on the Catholic faith and culture.
For this reason, Marshall finds satisfaction when a customer comes looking for a hard-to-find saint statue or medal or a particular printed prayer book and is able to provide it to him. The Saints, she said, are real people and models of Christianity and they are now our friends in Heaven.
“When a customer finds an image or symbolic representation of a beloved saint, he or she is very happy and so am I.,” said Marshall.
“A religious store is a kind of ‘essential business’,” she said. “Even 2,000 years ago there is a New Testament story about a merchant woman named Lydia. She was a supplier of goods for the needs of the day. I like to think of her as a model businesswoman. She is my patron saint. We want our sacramentals – those religious things we buy for our daily lives: holy reminders and powerful symbols that help us pray – to help us through all the important and mundane moments in our lives.
“With the pandemic underway, now even more so, we look to the things and traditions that strengthen us, comfort us and give us peace,” Marshall said. “With a little faith, we’ll all be fine. We will win.
Touch of Faith Catholic Gifts
- Address: 725 Jefferson St., Fairfield
- Telephone: 707-425-3393