All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing

Christianity Today

[CRS notes it is regrettable another company is closing its doors, particularly for the affected employees and their families. It has also been regrettable that Family Christian Stores provided so many materials containing doctrinal error. It would be difficult to estimate the volume of compromise sold to customers because of the lack of a faithful biblical filter in choosing publishing houses and/or their offerings.]

More than two years ago, suppliers forgave Family Christian Stores $127 million in debt so that it could remain open. Today, the chain—which bills itself as “the world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise”—announced it is closing all of its stores after 85 years in business.

Family Christian, which employed more than 3,000 people in more than 240 stores across 36 states, blamed “changing consumer behavior and declining sales” . . .

Family Christian’s financial problems weren’t new. In 2012, the chain bought itself back from private equity owners, and in 2013 promised to donate all profits to serving widows and orphans around the world. But only $300,000 was contributed to charities over the following two years, exhibiting how slim the margins were on the $450 million in gross sales the chain generated over the same period.

In 2015, Family Christian filed for bankruptcy. Despite $230 million in gross revenues in 2014, the retailer owed more than $90 million. Sales of $305 million in 2008 had steadily shrunk to a projected $216 million in 2015.

But 27 Christian publishers, including InterVarsity Press, Baker, Charisma Media, David C. Cook, and Abingdon Press, objected to the retailer’s restructuring plan, under which the chain would get to own $20 million worth of items bought on consignment “free and clear,” without paying the suppliers.

The Christian vendors also criticized the way the terms benefited Richard Jackson, who owned Family Christian, the first lienholder (FC Special Funding) in line to be paid with any proceeds, and the purchasing organization (FCS Acquisition).

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