Family Christian is closing all its 240 stores, including the one in Fresno, after 85 years in business.
It has billed itself as the “world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise.”
The Fresno store, 3072 W. Shaw Ave. near Stein Mart, opened in 2000.
The retailer filed for bankruptcy and emerged from it two years ago with several changes to the Fresno store. That included better customer service, deeper focus on its ministry and improvements to its gift, jewelry and home decor sections.
It’s not clear when the store will close. A Fresno store employee referred questions to the company’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. No one at the company could be reached via phone and an emailed message was not returned before deadline.
In a message posted on its website, Family Christian president and CEO Chuck Bengochea said: “As with any worthwhile endeavor, there have been challenges and setbacks, as well as remarkable acts of service and self-sacrifice. The retail landscape is changing, however, and despite improvements in our product assortment and our store experience, we have not been able to generate the sales necessary to sustain our business.”
It continued: “We have had two very difficult years, and after prayerfully looking at all possible options, and trusting God’s plan for our organization, we have made the difficult decision to close our stores. Family Christian will begin the closing process soon.”
Money from sales at the stores was used in ministries that helped more than 14 million people in this country and “some of the world’s darkest places.”
Family Christian is not alone as retailers of all kinds are closing locations and cutting costs. Its competitor, LifeWay Christian Store, still has a store at 5336 North Blackstone Ave., after it moved from River Park. It was formerly known as Berean Christian Stores.