To enter The Next Chapter bookstore at 310 Fourth Street NW in Canton is to feel instantly comfortable.

With its well-worn, original wooden floor and leather furniture, the shop features walls lined with books covering practically every genre that can be written, from history, to theology, to fiction, to children’s literature.

Chad Minor, The Next Chapter’s co-founder, said the store is also a space designed to give the community a gathering place, while serving as a vehicle for positive change as an outgrowth of Rising Hope Canton, his ministry of three years.

The bookstore opened in the spring of 2016.

“We always wanted to be a catalyst for the community,” he said. “We’re a faith-based ministry, but we also wanted books that were good, beautiful and true.”

Located in the heart of the Canton Arts District, Minor describes The Next Chapter as “a space for dreaming and collaboration,” noting that people from all walks of life visit.

“We’ve created a space to inspire people and to give people hope,” he said.

Minor said partners and friends built the bookshelves and donated books.

“We like to say you can’t have community without ‘unity,’ ” he said. “We just wanted to be a part of the community, to fill gaps. We also wanted to partner with the businesses down here, to edify the community.”

Minor said he believes The Next Chapter also helps to remedy what he calls a “knowledge gap.” A graduate of the University of Akron where he played varsity basketball, he earned a master’s in biblical studies from Malone University.

Carl Pace, a professor at Malone and Ohio Wesleyan College, acts as the store’s curator.

“He makes sure there’s good-quality material,” Minor said, noting that the store’s inventory includes such classic writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

He added that people who may feel hesitant to visit downtown don’t know what they’re missing.

“In this information age, often all you hear is the negative,” he said. “They don’t see the wonderful people who are here working, day and night.”

To make his point, Minor holds up a cup of coffee he bought from Cultured Coffee & Waffles and points to displays of photos and art produced by downtown artists.

Minor also praises Tricia Ostertag, vice president of marketing and special events at ArtsinStark, for her work in promoting downtown businesses.

“She does a fabulous job of connecting businesses,” he said.

“It’s a real family, a real blessing to be here,” he said. “I was honored to be welcomed.”

Minor said he and his wife, Jamie, purposely chose to open the bookstore downtown.

“You see a lot of people who talk. Every person should feel welcome to come in.”

The Next Chapter is open noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. To learn more, call 330-417-3573, or visit facebook.com/thenextchaptercantonohio.

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Charita Goshay

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