By Victor Ochieng
Times have changed for Family Christian Stores, so much so that its once busy headquarters that was characterized with a beehive of activities has now turned into a garage sale location. The store has finally bowed out of business and is auctioning trophies it earned during its heydays, as well as store shelves and several office cubicles.
“There are a lot of neat things here that have a local attachment,” says Bill Melvin, owner of Liquid Asset Partners, the company that will lead the online auctioning of the items to finalize the liquidation of what used to be our country’s biggest seller of Christian books and merchandise.
Family Christian Stores has found it a challenge competing with online retailers, in spite of having reorganized its activities following a bankruptcy two years ago. The retailer is closing all its 240 outlets spread across 36 states, with the exercise scheduled to be completed by the end of this month. In a bid to clear the sale as soon as possible, some of the items are being marked down to as low as 60% of the market value.
The store’s headquarters, which is located on 5300 Avenue SE, and its distribution center on 4480 44th Street SE, have already been closed down in readiness for the auction exercise. The headquarters employed up to 136 locals.
Although the main items in the sale are desks, tables, and chairs, Melvin said his company expects to see active bidding for some of the items that hang on the store’s walls.
One example is the frame of platinum records that the store earned after selling 8 million records at a time online sales had not taken over the market. Besides the frame, there are also some other items such as extension cords, laptop computers, desktop crosses, store fixtures and inspirational posters that are also lined up for sale.
Melvin noted that some of the materials that require high-tech handling were sold earlier in order to give the buyers enough time to dismantle them.
According to Melvin, whose company conducts between 30 and 50 sales every year, the company’s high-tech and automated products that were used to sort, pick and store products are in a very high demand and may not last long in the market.
It’s a disheartening ending to a business that had built a name nationally, but that’s the fate facing companies that fail to fully embrace online distribution.