CLEVELAND (AP) - A store that sells religious goods items such as clerical shirts and communion wafers is following the faithful to the suburbs.
Henninger's, which started in Cleveland 91 years ago, is leaving the city for nearby Parma, where it will have more space and be closer to more Roman Catholics, a key clientele.
The family owned store east of downtown is following the steady exodus from the city, where a number of century-old churches -- once holding thousands of worshippers -- now stand nearly empty.
The holiday weekend was set aside to move the store inventory.
The new store opens Tuesday.
"I was just thinking about how many hours I've spent within these walls," said Carol Cousineau, granddaughter of the store's founder, John Henninger. "New beginnings. That's what life's about."
John Henninger opened his store, originally a picture frame shop, near St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, which opened in 1898 and closed in 1993. Also nearby was St. Mary Seminary, which has since moved to suburban Wickliffe.
In the early 1920s, Henninger's sister, Rose, recognizing the big Catholic market, began stocking holy cards and rosary beads.
In 1962, Henninger's son, David, closed the small shop and moved the business to a bigger space closer to downtown.
The new store is within a five-mile radius of a dozen Catholic churches, including the Cleveland Catholic Diocese's three largest -- Holy Family, St. Charles and St. Columbkille, all in Parma and each with a parishioner list of 5,000 households.
"All the growth has moved south," Cousineau said.
Her husband, Tom, said the decision to move was also a result of a fire in September that destroyed $200,000 in stock.
Despite the move to a big Catholic market, Henninger's is not just for Catholics.
Rev. Dean Kavouras, a Lutheran minister who serves as a police chaplain, stopped recently to buy clerical shirts. He was happy to learn the store was moving to Parma, because that's where he lives.
"I'll be able to ride my bike there," he said.
Sister Margaret Mach of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity, who works in the downtown diocesan Office of Evangelization, said the Cleveland store was convenient for her, but she will shop at the new location.
"It's better for them," she said. "They'll have a bigger store, more accessible."