The largest chain of bookstores who primarily focuses on Christian books and merchandise is Family Christian. The bookseller filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and all 240 locations were operational during this period. The management had a board meeting last week and they voted to immediately close all of the retail outlets because they could not chart a path of profitability.
In announcing the decision to liquidate, Family Christian president Chuck Bengochea said the company had just emerged from “two very difficult years post-bankruptcy.”.
“Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline,” he said in a press release. “In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market. We have prayerfully looked at all possible options, trusting God’s plan for our organization, and the difficult decision to liquidate is our only recourse.”
“At its core, Family Christian is an organization with a heart for service. We are grateful for all of the millions of lives that have been impacted thanks to our guests’ and employees’ heart for bringing the light of Jesus to the darkest corners of our world. Through their efforts there is no question we have transformed lives now and for eternity,” said Steve Biondo, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development.
“Family Christian has left a powerful legacy of helping people find, grow, share and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ. Today and always, we are grateful to God for the privilege of serving Him and look forward to finishing strong for His name’s sake,” added Bengochea.
Steve Laube of The Steve Laube Agency believes the Christian retail industry, like any other retail industry, has taken a hit by the “Amazon effect,” and he says while the closing of Family Christian Stores is “bad news, it’s not necessarily a surprise.”
“Amazon is a disruptive factor in all retail,” Laube explained. “If you have one place that creates the ability for you to buy your toothpaste, your shirts, your grocery, as well as your books, virtually anything in one place and have it shipped to you to the convenience of your home, it’s kind of hard to compete with that, especially when the prices are very competitive.”