If you prefer to buy Bibles or other Christian merchandise in person, your options are about to narrow.
Family Christian announced Thursday that they would be closing all of their 240 stores, including a location at 5203 Cortez Road in Bradenton and 3123 Southgate Circle in Sarasota , after 85 years in business. It has billed itself as the “world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise.”
“We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” President Chuck Bengochea told Christianity Today. “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.”
The bookshop, which employs about 3,000 people, according to USA Today, filed for bankruptcy in 2015. At the time, the company said its sales had fallen 29 percent since 2008. Officials primarily blamed competition from online merchants, such as Amazon.
Those problems apparently continued, as the retailer cited “changing consumer behavior and declining sales” as reason for its closure, according to Christianity Today.
The chain, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had locations all over the U.S., particularly in the South and the Midwest. Family Christian has not announced whether sales on the website will continue.