Family Christian Stores
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Family Christian is the world's largest Christian-focused retailer, and is located in the United States. As of 2012, the retail chain has approximately 281 stores in 261 cities. The retail chain offers a variety of Christian-themed merchandise, especially books, Bibles, gifts and music.
The company was founded in 1931 by two young brothers who were first generation Americans at the start of The Great Depression. From their family farmhouse in Grandville, Michigan. Pat and Bernie Zondervan launched Zondervan Publishing House as a company committed to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through publishing and eventually Christian resources and products as well.
Until 1993, the chain was part of Zondervan, the Christian publishing company that owns the copyright to the New International Version of the Bible. The two companies share the same office complex in Western Michigan. Family Christian Stores has increased its size through acquisitions, including Joshua's Christian Stores and Shepherd Shoppe. In 2012, the management team and a group of Atlanta-based Christian businessmen purchased the company from the private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners which was the majority owner since 1999. The new owners pledged that 100% of store profits would go towards ministries serving widows and orphans.
Christian items and church supplies are also sold over the internet through the company website which transitioned to a new platform in the fall of 2011. The corporate office is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Some of the larger stores in the chain host large in-store events including concerts for Christian artists, book signings and special events.
In 2012, the company was acquired by three Atlanta-area businessmen who had the singular idea to turn it into an engine for increased Christian generosity. In December 2012, the organization was granted 501 (c)3 status from the Internal Revenue Service, officially transforming it into a nonprofit company. Family Christian pledges to its customers that when they shop with them, 100% of the earnings will be donated to Christian organizations and causes.
- 2013: Family Christian transitions from a for-profit to a nonprofit organization.
- 2012: Family Christian reaches two significant ministry milestones: 100,000 child sponsorships through customer generosity and nearly 1,000,000 Bibles donated around the world through various promotional partnerships with Bible ministries. Launches new company logo and branding in all print collateral and in-store signage. Company purchased by current management team and a group of Atlanta-based Christian businessmen.
- 2011: The James 1:27 calling becomes the mission for all areas of business at Family Christian, from internal communication to catalog and emails. Greater initiative is taken to inform the customer of how a percentage of every purchase with Family Christian goes to support orphans and widows around the world through the work of their non-profit foundation The James Fund. Family Christian adopts new logo and begins rolling out new brand strategy that reflects this calling. Company also re-launches website on new e-commerce/multi-channel platform.
- 2010: Family Christian’s commitment to The James Fund and the mission of James 1:27 moves center-stage, being adopted as the company’s “calling.” In support of their commitment to orphans and widows around the world, Family Christian launches Good Goers Mission-based Adventure Travels and begins facilitation and coordination of mission trips in North, Central and South America.
- 2006: Cliff Bartow becomes President and CEO.
- 2003: Family Christian Stores establishes The James Fund, a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation dedicated to serving orphans and widows as based on the Bible verse James 1:27.
- 2002: David M. Browne becomes President and CEO of Family Christian Stores.
- 2000: Family Christian Stores’ store count stands at 356 stores in 39 states.
- 1999: Family Christian Stores is acquired by a private equity firm.
- 1997: Family Bookstores changes its name to Family Christian Stores to better reflect the variety of Christian lifestyle products it sells.
- 1994: The leadership organizes a management buyout of Family Bookstores from HarperCollins, making the organization an independent company with 153 stores nationwide.
- 1993: Zondervan reorganizes again into two distinct businesses, Zondervan Publishing House and Family Bookstores, both reporting directly to HarperCollins. Leslie Dietzman who had been in charge of the division continues as president and CEO of Family Bookstores independently.
- 1989: Family Bookstores opens its 102nd store.
- 1988: Zondervan is acquired by Harper & Row Publishers, which later becomes HarperCollins.
- 1981: Family Bookstores’ stands at 64 stores in 20 states. Zondervan establishes a policy to open stores only in established shopping centers. At this time, it’s estimated that 30% of the chain’s customers do not attend church.
- 1975: Family Bookstores’ location count stands at 40 stores.
- 1971: Zondervan reorganizes into six distinct divisions, which includes the retail division. The company changes the name of its bookstore chain from Zondervan Book Stores to Family Bookstores.
- 1960: Zondervan opens a third bookstore in Wyoming, Michigan. Stores in Flint, East Lansing and Indianapolis were soon to follow.
- 1937: Zondervan opens its second bookstore in Winona Lake, Indiana. They also begin selling books, music and cards by catalog.
- 1933: Zondervan publishes its first book, Women of the Old Testament, by Abraham Kuyper.
- 1932: Zondervan opens its first store in Grand Rapids, Michigan to sell remainders purchased from Harper Brothers. It is simply named Zondervan Book Store.
- Faith's purchasing power, Cathy Lynn Grossman, December 13, 2007, USA Today, Retrieved January 22, 2008
- Family Christian Stores, Inc. quick information, Hoovers, Retrieved January 22, 2007
- Family Christian Stores Company Description, Hoovers, Retrieved January 22, 2007
- , Family Christian Press Release, Retrieved November 16, 2012
- FFH Draws Crowds Nationwide with Release of New CD, Book ; August 21, 2001; christianactivities.com; Retrieved January 22, 2008