2.23.17: Family Christian Stores say they plan to close all their stores
GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive) – Family Christian Stores, the nation’s largest chain of Christian book and merchandise stores, announced it will close its doors after 85 years in business.
The announcement on Thursday, Feb. 23, did not specify a timetable for the liquidation, which will affect more than 3,000 employees at more than 240 stores in 36 states.
In 2015, Family Christian shed about $127 million worth of debt to its suppliers, creditors and consignment vendors when it went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was sold for about $55 million.
“We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” said company president Chuck Bengochea in a news release, that blamed changing consumer habits and declining sales for the decision.
“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.”
“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.”
Family Christian’s roots go back to 1931, when brothers Pat and Bernie Zondervan began a publishing house in their family’s Grandville farmhouse. Zondervan Corp. grew to become the nation’s largest Christian publishing house.
Zondervan’s bookstores were spun off in 1990s into Family Christian Stores after Harper Collins purchased the publishing house, which has since been merged with Nashville-based Thomas Nelson.