Family Christian, which bills itself as the “world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise,” announced Thursday it is closing after 85 years.
The non-profit company, employing more than 3,000 people in 240 stores in 36 states, said in a brief statement that the retailer had been facing declining sales since filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and had no choice but to shut down.
“Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline,” said Chuck Bengochea, the company’s president. “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.”
No timetable for the shutdown was offered in the statement. The company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., did not return calls for comment.
The company was founded in 1931 by two brothers, Pat and Bernie Zondervan, who started a bookstore and publishing enterprise. The company gradually expanded, opening other stores in the Midwest. In the 1970s, the company changed its name from Zondervan to Family Bookstores and continued to add locations.
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SOURCE: USA Today
Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press