Family Christian announced today it is closing all of its stores after 85 years in business—just two years after suppliers forgave $127 million in debt during the Christian retail chain’s 2015 bankruptcy filing.
Family Christian President Chuck Bengochea cited “changing consumer behavior and declining sales” as the reasons for the decision to close all 240 stores across 36 states. More than 3,000 employees will also lose their jobs.
“We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” said Bengochea in a company statement. “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.”
Senior VP of Human Resources and Organizational Development Steve Biondo added, “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.”
“Family Christian has left a powerful legacy of helping people find, grow, share and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ,” said Bengochea. “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.”
CBA President Curtis Riskey expressed his sympathies at the loss for Family Christian’s employees and for the transition ahead for the communities, churches and individuals who have relied on Family for faith-enriching products. “CBA is grateful for the work of Family Christian Stores and its significant history over the past 85 years and we are confident God has used the company and its employees to put life-giving products into the hands of those who have needed the message.
“Family Christian Stores has been an important part of a global network of Christian product providers,” he added. “While their closing will be felt strongly by many, their decision will not change the strength of our industry’s mission to make God’s name known.”
Riskey reinforced the importance of adapting to a changing marketplace and changes in consumer behavior, acknowledging that this news can be “a catalyst that encourages us in the Christian products industry to find new ways to work together and learn from each other as we continue to equip people with life-giving resources.”