April 2019

Resources to Guide an Expansion of Christian Retail

Dear friends,

We believe there is a future for Christian bookselling. The demand and desire for Christian content remain strong, and retailers have a unique way of curating products for the customer and gathering customers in community.

With the Family and LifeWay closures over the past 3 years, over 400 Christian bookstores have closed. We’ve found that there are many U.S. local markets with 50,000 people without a Christian bookstore within an hour’s drive.

Here’s the question: Is this is the end of bookstores or the beginning of a rise for independent retailers? We believe it is the latter. As one example, Borders’ closure of 500 stores in 2011 was followed by a steady rise of ABA general market independent bookstores over the past 8 years. ABA membership is up, ABA store sales are increasing, and 28 ABA stores changed hands last year—all signs of health.

The ideal Christian bookstore operator has a passion for ministry and a strong work ethic. There are large groups of middle-aged Christians who long for fulfilling work in the form of “Kingdom business.” I personally know dozens of these ministry-minded business people and know that there are thousands more.

In response to these matters above, we are kicking off an awareness campaign that has the following goals:

  1. To make a case for Christian retailing, addressing misperceptions about print books and bookstores, and offering a suite of resources to those interested in Christian retailing
  2. To identify parties who are interested in owning and/or operating a Christian bookstore in markets that need one and don’t have one
  3. To facilitate a connection for Christian retailers in need of a business succession plan. The 2018 Christian retailer survey revealed that 18% of retailers want or need this. If this effort connects interested buyers with stores ready to change hands, we would be thrilled to help.

Here is the link to the landing page we have developed, which answers key questions and links to a variety of industry resources. We see this as an industry-wide initiative intended to help as many as possible.

We want you, our industry peers, to be aware of these plans and to pray with us. We need God’s wisdom, God’s favor, and God’s Spirit to grant generosity and compassion with each person we connect with.

I would love to hear your feedback on this; we value your perspective and support.

Here to serve,

Greg Squires