Family Christian Stores To Shut Down All 240 Outlets
from The Christian Post
After 85 years of operation, Family Christian has announced it will close all its stores, which will impact more than 3,000 employees. The chain of more than 240 Christian-themed merchandise stores operating in 36 states bills itself as the world's largest retailer of Bible-related books and music.
The company was founded in 1931 as Zondervan Corp. in West Michigan and grew to become the nation's largest Christian publishing house. Harper Collins acquired the company and renamed Zondervan's bookstores to Family Christian stores in 1997.
FCS' financial woes began when sales steadily shrunk from $305 million in 2008 to only $216 million in 2015. In the same year, the company filed for bankruptcy, which required the publishers to restructure its $127-million debt. The store tried to improve its product variety but ultimately, it seems, it couldn't compete with online retailers.
In a press release, Family Christian cited "changing consumer behavior and declining sales" for its insolvency.
"Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline. In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market," Family Christian President and CEO, Chuck Bengochea has explained.
He also added: "We have had two very difficult years, and after prayerfully looking at all possible options, and trusting God's plan for our organization, we have made the difficult decision to close our stores. Family Christian will begin the closing process soon."
Glenn Bailey, president of Send the Light Distribution, which closed down a year ago, echoed the difficulty in competing with online stores. He lamented that his company used to ship more than 25,000 Bibles a day until online retailers such as Amazon significantly impacted the traditional sales model.
"When companies get creative and find new and better ways to do things like Amazon Prime, at the end of the day, that kind of thing also destroys the current or past way that business had been done," he told Christianity Today.