In 2015 Family Christian, a chain of stores selling books and tacky religious gifts, went bust, leaving creditors out of pocket to the tune of millions of dollars.
But a Michigan judge, in granting the company a Chapter 11 bankruptcy sale, allowed the business to carry on trading.
Company President Chuck Bengochea said at the time:
We have been through dark days and now we can celebrate. We have a sovereign God who has a plan for Family Christian.
But God’s plan, as it turned out, was to put Family Christian out of business once and for all.
This week Family Christian is announcing it will close its doors – after 85 years in business.
It said in a press release:
Changing consumer behavior and declining sales led the world’s largest retailer of Christian themed merchandise to make the difficult decision to close. Family Christian is a not-for-profit business that employs more than 3,000 people and operates over 240 retail locations in 36 states, nationwide. Family Christian Ministries has provided humanitarian aid for more than 14 million orphans, widows and oppressed people across the globe.
Bengochea said in the release:
We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy. 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 has left a powerful legacy of helping people find, grow, share and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ. 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.
Steve Biondo, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development 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.
On its website, Family Christian said all merchandise is now being sold for up to 30 percent off.