America’s largest Christian retailer, Family Christian Stores, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
This doesn’t mean that they are closing down; they are doing this in order to save their company. They are going to restructure and try to stay in business.
Perhaps most interesting though, is that while Family Christian Stores is floundering, Lifeway Christian Bookstores is expanding.
What’s the difference between these two? In short, I would put it this way: Lifeway has higher standards about what they sell and how they do business.
Earlier this year, when it came out that a certain big name pastor/author had committed rampant plagiarism, Lifeway immediately dropped his books from their shelves. Family Christian Stores, on the other hand specializes in cheesy Christian paraphernalia and selling whatever sells. I remember going into one of their stores once and being surprised to see a particular book on their shelves. My wife asked the manager why they sold that book – his response was very telling: he said he was ashamed to have that book on their shelves too, but corporate said that they had to, because they are first and foremost a business and people buy that product.
It would seem to me that the reason Family Christian Stores is struggling whereas Lifeway is flourishing must somehow be attributed to the fact that Christians actually have higher standards and are more discerning as to where they spend their money and what values they want their retailers to represent than Family Christians Stores gave them credit for.