While you’re not likely to see Elder George Q. Cannon walk through the doors of The Brass Plates bookstore in Spokane Valley anytime soon, it’s more than probable that the former apostle would be proud of what he saw.
Cannon is acknowledged as the founder of Deseret Book in 1866 when he distributed a publication for LDS youth in Salt Lake City. The pamphlet – a pioneer version of the New Era containing stories, reminders about Church standards and scripture references – became a featured item on the shelves of the George Q. Cannon & Sons Bookstore that opened a year after the first issue was published.
Nearly 150 years after Cannon’s company got its start, the co-owner of The Brass Plates, Cori Wright, is part of a nationwide network of independent Deseret Book stores that continue to carry an uplifting, clean and spiritually nourishing inventory. Cori said she knew the environment would change when store, which she owns with her husband, Rob, became officially affiliated with Deseret Book earlier this year.
To begin with, the name of the business, Brass Plates, would now include the subtitle of “Independent Deseret Book store.” Secondly, the Spokane Valley-based company would be part of a nationwide network that includes 40 such stores, including locations in Kennewick and Bellevue. While the majority of Deseret Book affiliates are concentrated in Utah and Idaho, stores have cropped up in Florida, California, Texas, South Carolina and other states.
When the Spokane store first opened in June of 2009, Cori had a goal of becoming a Deseret Book affiliate in 10 years.
“That’s what I was aiming for, changing the store and making improvements, creating a viable market for Deseret Book,” Cori said. “We were blessed to do that in just six years.”
The transition has meant a vastly broader product line that includes home décor, a wide range of books, CDs, artwork, games, puzzles and church videos. There are also the staples that customers have come to expect at The Brass Plates, including an inventory of around 120 CTR rings, ties, jewelry, quality prints and more.
“For the customer, it’s great. We have lots of wonderful products, things we might not have carried before,” Cori said. “Plus, the all the promotions that Deseret Book does are available right here, all the coupons and special deals and your platinum membership benefits. It’s all right here. No more calling your sister-in-law who lives in Utah.”
While the new chapter with Deseret Book has added layers to what visitors can now find at The
Brass Plates, Cori said the store has been careful to maintain the level of customer service that the business has always emphasized.
“We are still your local bookstore and we love to see you and help you find the perfect book or gift,” she said. “We hope that the Deseret Book brand encourages people to come see what’s new and get excited about books again. We love supporting local events and hope that you will share with us, so we can help you get the word out.”
With the terrain shifting for many independent LDS bookstores – three sites in the greater Inland Northwest have closed in recent years – Cori said The Brass Plates have become more of a regional destination.
“It’s been hard to see that,” Cori said. “The Moses Lake and Lewiston locations closed this year and we lost Missoula a couple years ago. That leaves Kennewick and us. We serve all of western Montana, northern Idaho, southern British Columbia and all of northeastern Washington.”
This Christmas season, a number of items have emerged as favorites at The Brass Plates, including President Thomas S. Monson’s new book of daily reflections, “A Future as Bright as Your Faith.” “Miracle Maker,” a Christmas-themed movie about the lessons learned from an enigmatic character who leaves a unique impact upon a village, has also been a top seller. The store carries an assortment of Nativity sets as well as distinctive products like an “Armor of God” statue.
From the work of well-known LDS artists like Annie Henrie and Greg Olsen to the music of The Piano Guys and Lindsey Sterling, The Brass Plates make sure to stock the latest in a variety of categories. Those looking for reliable family activities can find selections like “The LDS Game Book” and kids’ literature like “A is for Abinadi,” an alphabet book featuring scripture heroes.
For families with an elder, sister missionary or senior missionaries in the field, there are special Christmas stockings. Other items like smaller prints and handouts are popular purchases that find their way to missionaries who may not have access to resources for investigators in certain countries.
After a short stint on 32nd Avenue near the Spokane Temple – site of the original LDS bookstore known as The Journal – Cori and Rob moved The Brass Plates in late 2009 to its current site on Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley, not far from the Sullivan Road intersection. Over time, the store has expanded and now covers around 2,000 square feet.
“It’s a little tricky to get to at first but this is really the heart of Valley shopping,” Cori said. “We are more convenient for our clients who are running regular errands and not just for those on way to the temple. We are right in the middle of everything here, it’s a great location. Several LDS stores are close to the temple, and are affected by the temple schedule. We are not tied to the temple schedule but still just minutes away for those who are at the temple.”
“This is wonderful industry with great people,” she said. “I have learned so much, and developed great relationships with vendors and other independent retailers. We have the best customers, they are so nice. I work in a great environment with beautiful music and the Spirit, every day. I have the opportunity to share the gospel and help others while I help provide for my family.”