Tim and Tammy Nugent didn’t set out to save St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Books and Gifts — Owensboro’s last remaining Christian retail store.
But by chance — or by divine intervention — they have.
Tammy Nugent said she and her husband were regular customers of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Books and Gifts, which was owned by Kelly Hedges for nearly 20 years and located inside Old Town shopping center on 18th Street.
“Over the years, I would tell Kelly, ‘I’d love to buy your store — just joking,’ ” Tammy Nugent said. “But for some reason, she was really on my mind … I think it was around October. I said, ‘I do not know why I’m calling you but you have been on my mind so much and I would just really love to buy your store.’ ”
That’s when Hedges revealed that she had decided to close the store at the end of December if no one purchased it.
The Nugents then became serious about buying the business, and by March of this year were the new owners of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Books and Gifts.
“We have a significant Catholic community and it’s important to serve the Catholic community,” Tim Nugent said. “Just in the short time we’ve been here, we’ve gone through communion season, confirmation season and we just went through Holy Week and Easter. Those are times when people think more about their faith and they want to commemorate the sacrament that their loved one is celebrating.”
After purchasing the business, the Nugents decided to move it in April to a new location inside Halifax Plaza — 1020 Halifax Drive, Suite 101.
And although the Nugents are full-time educators — Tammy Nugent, a teacher at Estes Elementary School, and Tim Nugent, an associate professor at Brescia University — they plan to be there operating it as much as they can along with employee Laurena Lawson.
“I’d like to do just this but with us just buying it we need to see how it’s going to do before I let go of my teaching,” said Tammy Nugent, who’s taught for 19 years.
St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Books and Gifts mainly caters toward the Catholic faith but it does carry Protestant Bibles and crosses.
LifeWay Christian Store, which had been in Owensboro for 72 years, closed in June 2019. That left St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Books and Gifts as the last remaining Christian retail store in Daviess County.
“There’s a vacuum here and people come in looking,” Tim Nugent said. “…We don’t want to lose our identity as a Catholic store but realizing there aren’t other Christian stores here there’s a need; if someone needs a Bible, we have a Bible for them.”
The store is stocked with rosaries, saint medals, crucifixes and various Catholic statues and books.
At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Most Rev. William Medley, bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, is scheduled to bless St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Books and Gifts.
Store hours are from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and closed on Sundays. Anyone wishing to contact the store can call 270-689-9485. The store does special orders and offers Bible engravings.
“People come in all phases of life,” Tim Nugent said. “All of these things are going on and there’s a faith component to people’s lives.”