Keystone Bookstore celebrates Golden Anniversary

By 
Miriam Campan
Reporter
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
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Donna Ferdinand smiles at a memory of the early days in her bookstore, which celebrates a Golden Anniversary this month. The store is open both Saturday and Sunday for an celebratory open house.
Photo by Miriam Campan

For 42 of its 50 years, since Keystone Christian Supply initially opened in 1970, Donna Ferdinand and her family have kept its doors open as a welcome retreat for those interested in a variety of books, along with other unique gift items. Books offered range from Christian-themed to local and Montana history and compete for shelf space with music, music boxes, jewelry, candies, clothing for young children and a myriad of other items.
Keystone Christian Supply was originally founded in 1970 by Florence Borcherding in a little house at the corner of Janeaux and Dawes streets.
“When she started the store, she had $1,000 to begin the business,” Ferdinand said, “She called the Christian Bookseller Association and she asked for their advice. They got back to her and said, ‘We don’t advise you to start the store; there is not enough of a customer base and we advise not to open. She joined the Christian Bookseller Association despite their advice, and they were right--she was never prosperous.”
Ferdinand said the store started as a nonprofit.

“When I arrived I really couldn’t imagine running a store. I could barely count. I went to work with her and got started,” Ferdinand recalled.
Six years later, a partnership was formed between Borcherding and Ferdinand, who took sole ownership in 1979. The store’s current location at 417 West Main was opened, and the building was remodeled in 2006.
“The uncovered floors still squeak and the unique original embossed tin ceiling was exposed. The walls were patched. Duane [Ferdinand] and I did most of the demolition. We like to save old buildings,” said Ferdinand.
It was more than books and buildings that motivated Ferdinand to keep the store available to shoppers. “Keystone has always been a family affair,” she said.
When young, Ferdinand’s daughters, Kelly and Delci, napped in the back room. All four daughters -- Ginger, Leigh Ann, Kelly and Delci -- learned how to count back change, while son Wade worked as a t-shirt model. The family all helped during inventory time.
Ferdinand has expanded the business to global proportions by selling on Amazon, and looks to the community’s need to stock the shelves.
“We sell lots of local history books, rare and used and out-of-print. I have one history book that Amazon was listing in the hundreds of dollars. I just looked at my price for the same book and it’s closer to $50. When Shopko closed its Lewistown store, many of my customers expressed concerns on where they were going to buy baby gifts and clothing, so I added those. I just get a kick out of ordering and selling the baby-related items. And we sell children’s books, too,” said Ferdinand.
The selection of Christian books and authors is vast, but Keystone is not limited to that one genre. Aside from Bibles and pre-packaged Bible studies, the store offers a large selection of new and gently used books covering everything from cookbooks to pulp fiction for children, teenagers and curious minded-adults.
“One of these days there will be an unusual collapse at Keystone because there are too many books,” Ferdinand joked.
For bibliophiles, jewelry and chocolate lovers, music aficionados  (there is a large selection of CDs, vinyls and music boxes), the small Main Street store holds a lot of inventory to inspire, while the gracious store keepers eagerly share their love of family and community.
Donna Ferdinand and family will celebrate 50 years of serving Central Montana during their Open House this weekend, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6 and 7, from 9:30 to 5:30 p.m.

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