All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing

Family Christian Bookstore

Family Christian, one of the world's largest Christian-focused retailer, is closing down. Though the closure date has not been mentioned, they are closing down due to the constant decline in sales over the last few years. The non-profit store employs 3,000 people and has 240 retail stores across the nation. The store has been experiencing declining sales since filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and had no choice 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."

The company was founded in 1931 by two young brothers who were first generation Americans at the start of The Great Depression. From their family farmhouse in Grandville, Michigan. Pat and Bernie Zondervan launched Zondervan Publishing House as a company committed to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through publishing and eventually Christian resources and products as well.

Until 1993, the chain was part of Zondervan, the Christian publishing company that owns the copyright to the New International Version of the Bible. The two companies share the same office complex in Western Michigan. Family Christian Stores has increased its size through acquisitions, including Joshua's Christian Stores and Shepherd Shoppe.

In 2012, the management team and a group of Atlanta-based Christian businessmen purchased the company from the private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners which was the majority owner since 1999. The new owners pledged that 100% of store profits would go towards ministries serving widows and orphans.

Christian items and church supplies are also sold over the internet through the company website which transitioned to a new platform in the fall of 2011.  The corporate office is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Some of the larger stores in the chain host large in-store events including concerts for Christian artists, book signings and special events.

In 2012, the company was acquired by three Atlanta-area businessmen who had the singular idea to turn it into an engine for increased Christian generosity. In December 2012, the organization was granted 501 (c)3 status from the Internal Revenue Service, officially transforming it into a nonprofit company. Family Christian pledges to its customers that when they shop with them, 100% of the earnings will be donated to Christian organizations and causes. 


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