This was left as a comment at Steve Laube’s blog article about the Family Christian Stores Chapter 11 filing. For some reason, I just felt I should share it here; I really feel sad for this church.
This hits all the way to the local church. We sponsored a music event, where FCS was a ticket outlet. They sold $8507 in tickets. Instead of getting the check, I received the official Chapter 13 notification in today’s mail. Our event was Feb 2-7. The filing was on Feb 11. If the handwriting was on the wall, they should not have accepted our tickets. They literally took our ticket money. A bitter pill to swallow!
Pastor Bill Bailey
I don’t think of any of us are prepared for the length of time and degree of impact of the various ripple effects from what has happened as FCS. No matter how successful they are at restructuring, our industry is never going to be the same.
Although I originally posted some of what follows back in July, I want to repeat it here as we have experienced an unusually good response to this product line since adding it to our inventory mix. Although we’ve stocked t-shirts for nearly two decades, until now we never did well with ladies‘ designs or shirts for children. Despite the fact we’re a small market, we’ve done five reorders with Donnie Persaud and his staff and we want to share this in the hope you’ll have a similar experience.
Remember, this is a Canadian supplier, so your prices are not subject to dollar fluctuation. Here’s the original announcement we ran back in the summer:
Live Christ Clothing is excited to announce the official launch of its faith based apparel company and online store (www.livechristclothing.com). Live Christ is more than a brand; it’s a lifestyle. Amidst a culture that promotes various ideologies, the message of Live Christ Clothing is bold and unmistakable – to truly live life, you must live Christ.
Established by Philippians 1:21 [“to live is Christ”], the vision of Live Christ Clothing is to inspire others to find life and live life. With its always-intentional design philosophy, Live Christ Clothing is sure to capture attention and create opportunities for its customers to share their faith.
Live Christ Clothing provides products for the entire family including men’s and ladies t-shirts, hoodies, polos, track jackets, youth t-shirts, kids t-shirts, infant onesies and select accessories.
With its bold colours, unique designs and inspiring biblical messages, Live Christ Clothing offers a distinct blend of faith and fashion.
Live Christ Clothing… is a family owned and operated company based in Toronto. Through its clothing, inspirational blogs and Live Christ campaigns, Live Christ Clothing is destined to advance the message of God’s kingdom.
Again, I encourage you to check out their website and put together a purchase order. Pay particular attention to the designs for women and kids. For any American retailers reading this, a push into the U.S. is still in the future, but they’re willing to explore the logistics of shipping and exporting with you and your dollar currently goes much further here.
I thought it was strange that the first I heard that blogger Brandan Robertson had become the Christian publishing news-maker of the week, it was a story at the online page of TIME Magazine, not my usual Christian information channels. The book in question was Nomad: Not-So-Religious Thoughts on Faith, Doubt, and the Journey In Between, scheduled for release October 20, 2015 by Charismatic publisher Destiny Image.
The article begins,
A prominent Christian publisher canceled a book project this week after the author refused to say that he did “not condone, encourage or accept the homosexual lifestyle,” the author told TIME.
Okay, so it was the gay thing again. End of story, right?
For its part, Destiny Image was dodging the issue:
When TIME asked [Don] Nori why Destiny pulled the book, Nori did not address the role that Robertson’s position on sexuality played in their decision: “There is nothing significant to report,” Nori says. “We did not reject or refuse. As with all books, a publisher decides what is financially viable. We released the book back to the author with our sincere prayers for his success. This occurrence happens every season.”
The implication is that here, in the first quarter of 2015, the sales force had already determined that there wasn’t enough interest in a book scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2015. Seems a bit far off, doesn’t it?
Furthermore, there was one report that the word gay only occurred one time in the manuscript.
The more I thought about this, the more weird it seemed that Destiny Image had tapped Robertson for a book at all. It just didn’t fit their style at all. I reached out to Brandan on Twitter:
Brandan, As a 39-year veteran of the Christian bookstore business in Canada, I don’t know how the heck you ended up with Destiny Image in the first place.
But then two days ago Brandan wrote a blog post which got picked up by Huffington Post yesterday which sets the scene a little clearer:
…My former publisher, Destiny Image, signed me in March 2014 to be one of the first in their new “progressive” line of books along with books by my friend Benjamin L. Corey (who blogs at Patheos Progressive). As a then 21 year old senior in college, I was excited at the opportunity to turn so many of the thoughts that I had been sharing through my blog Revangelical into a book, a dream that I have had since I was a child. My book was to be a collection of memoir-essays that outlined some of the most important lessons that I have learned over the course of my spiritual journey thus far. I would be raw and honest, but also seek to write from an evangelical perspective to evangelicals. In order to do that, I intentionally kept out a chapter on sexuality, hoping to not detract from the broader message I was trying to communicate…
Okay, so it’s the progressive publishing imprint thing again. End of story, right?
Don’t they ever learn?
This is so reminiscent of the situation with Waterbrook. If you’ve forgotten, they published a book — God and the Gay Christian — which also caught some flak because of sexuality issues. But then, they argued that the book was issued under the Convergent imprint, not Waterbrook per se. That didn’t fly with anyone, since the other imprint shared the same acquisitions and editorial staff. So the company severed the two divisions, as they should have from the outset.
Destiny Image had not announced a different imprint. The book was listed at Ingram — and Book Manager — as being issued under the parent label. (Screen shot available on request if the title is de-listed.)
Publishers: You want to attract an edgier type of reader? Fine. But if you’re playing with fire, be prepared to get burned. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have controversy without… controversy. Make up your mind to just go for it, and then be all in, or find a different avenue that will help you make your sales targets.
The book has been released back to the author, and after the publicity that has been generated, Brandan should have no problem getting it published, and may not have to wait until October if the new publisher decides to fast-track it to take advantage of the newly-generated interest.
Finally, if you think this is just desserts for an author that was probably too young to have this publishing opportunity bestowed on him in the first place, you might want to hold back that thought; his resumé is impressive. The information Destiny Image supplied to Ingram notes:
Brandan Robertson is a writer, speaker, activist, and the dreamer behind the Revangelical Movement. Brandan has a B.A. in Pastoral Studies and Bible from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago (as of May 2014) and is pursuing his M.Div. Degree from Wesley Theological Seminary (August 2014). Brandan writes for Revangelical, Red Letter Christians, Sojourners, and IMPACT Magazine and has been a featured contributor to a number of well-read blogs and news outlets. Brandan is also the host of the Revangelical Podcast and the director of an action-oriented social justice initiative called “Revangelicals for a Better Tomorrow.” He is also a sought after consultant to churches, denominations, and faith-based organizations on issues of the faith of the millennial generation and issues surrounding building bridges across religious, cultural, and political divides.
With or without Destiny Image, I think this guy is going places.
HarperOne is releasing three titles by Henri Nouwen in paperback on March 10th. Nouwen does well in the Canadian market — there is a strong Toronto connection — though initial releases in hardcover often temper sales in what is a price-conscious market.
For the unfamiliar, it’s pronounced ‘NOW-in.’ I don’t need to tell most of you that. But many people don’t know his story, so you might want to take a minute to read about him, though his Wikipedia article is far too brief. In short: A theology academic who gave it up to live a life of service that most people reading this would consider far too menial. (Here’s a link to a 2011 article I did consisting of quotations from Henri Nouwen.)
These titles are available for pre-order at $16.99 US:
An article from a local pastor appeared in the newspaper in Coldwater, Michigan and looked at the Alex Malarkey book and the issue of Christian authors buying their way onto the New York Times Bestseller List in the light of the situation with NBC’s Brian Williams:
…One wonders whether the Christian publishing industry has fallen victim to its own success. Most of the Christian publishing houses and the booksellers who market their product were founded to serve the larger Church in communicating the good news of Christ to a wider audience. Have business plans somehow displaced mission goals? Has their model of success been reshaped in the mold of their secular counterparts? Has the focus shifted away from spiritual impact to issues of retail strategy and market share?
For most of us, gone are the days of postcards, pencils, lapel pins and coin purses. We like to think that we’re all a bit more sophisticated these days, and many of us have also experienced a transformation from “church supply store” to more of a consumer-focused Christian bookstore.
Still, small price point items can add up, and at this time of year, anything that can contribute to the bottom line should not be ignored. Most of these purchase fall into one of two categories:
- impulse items at the checkout
- bulk purchases for giveaway purposes
From my perspective, a small price point is anything under $3.99 US, but it could also include the category of budget music CDs. We are fortunate that companies like CTA (Christian Tools of Affirmation) is a leader in this category and continues to recognize the need for items in this price category. But there are many others as well.
Items near the checkout at my store include
- Bible marking pencils
- bookmarks (spinning display) from Universal Designs and Christian Art Gifts
- CTA and Dayspring pen and bookmark sets
- Zondervan Verses That Stick packages (4 designs, 101 scriptures on sticky notes)
- bargain priced audio books on CD
- Adventures in Odyssey episode sample discs
- packages of stickers (especially ones that work for adults, but also ones for kids)
- pocket cards (in a small display unit)
- packaged notes
- auto emblems (displayed elsewhere, but we’ll put a fish or two visible when space is open)
- small magnetic picture frames from Carpentree
- page/line magnifiers (especially this one)
- Tic-Tacs, Halls, Certs, Breath-Savers, TriDent (we have a wholesale source for these)
- Christians Brands Salvation tote bag (we’ve sold dozens of these)
- low priced jewelry (i.e. wooden crosses on strings from Charbonneau)
- packages of tissue (from Christian Brands)
- children’s bandages
- card games (because I have no other place for them)
- booklets (including some broken packages, but still sold in pairs, not individually)
- low price New Testaments
As far as bulk sales go, you can’t recommend something if you don’t have one to show, so we often will buy the smallest number of units of an item possible, with the hope that a church or organization or individual will see the potential in ordering a dozen or fifty or 150.
So…anything I left off the list?
Last week, CNN referred to various acts of persecution as Religion’s Week from Hell. With events taking place on the world scene that bring us to our knees, people are looking for authors who can speak to these world issues. Moody Press and FaithWords have titles in the works from Charles Dyer and Robert Jeffress respectively, but there is very little to offer customers at present.
The lone book currently on the market, The Rise of ISIS by Jay Sekulow is about to have some company with two new titles from HarperCollins Christian Publishing.
Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe by Tom Doyle releases first. Here is the blurb from Thomas Nelson:
Could you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Your family’s lives?
To many Christians in the Middle East today, a “momentary, light affliction” means enduring only torture instead of martyrdom. The depth of oppression Jesus followers suffer is unimaginable to most Western Christians. Yet, it is an everyday reality for those who choose faith over survival in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries hostile to the Gospel of Christ. In”Killing Christians, “Tom Doyle takes readers to the secret meetings, the torture rooms, the grim prisons, and even the executions that are the “calling” of countless Muslims-turned-Christians.
Each survivor longs to share with brothers and sisters “on the outside” what Christ has taught them. “Killing Christians “is their message to readers who still enjoy freedom to practice their faith. None would wish their pain and suffering on those who do not have to brave such misery, but the richness gained through their remarkable trials are delivered–often in their own words–through this book. The stories are breathtaking, the lessons soul-stirring and renewing. “Killing Christians “presents the dead serious work of expanding and maintaining the Faith.
Defying Isis: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard by Liberty University’s Johnnie Moore releases in April, also from Thomas Nelson:
Has the Christian Holocaust Begun?
A Christian genocide at the hands of Islamic extremists is unfolding in the Middle East. Entire Christian populations have been eliminated, and the ultimate aim of ISIS and the Islamic State is to eradicate the world of Christianity.
They are well on their way. Thousands of Christians arrive in refugee camps daily as tents can be seen for miles across the countryside of Jordan, Northern Iraq and Lebanon.
Churches have been demolished, crosses burned and replaced with ISIS flags, homes destroyed, entire communities displaced, religious conversions forced, human torture enacted, children slaughtered, and all in plain sight.
In many cities every single Christian has been “taken care of” — displaced, murdered or forcibly converted, and just as the Nazis painted the Star of David on the homes of Jews, Jihadists have painted the Christian “N” (the first letter of the Arabic word for “Christian”) on the homes of indigenous Christian communities to identify them before destroying them. They have proclaimed that they will not stop until Christianity is wiped off the earth from the land of its birth all the way to your own backyard. So what can be done to help these brave souls in the crossfire and protect a holy land?
With never before told stories of horror and of hope, Johnnie Moore unveils the threat of ISIS against worldwide Christianity, and what the world must do about it. Along the way, he introduces us to the courageous Christians who have stared down ISIS and lived to raise their crosses higher.
Both titles are available now for pre-order in paperback.
Two of the images used in this article appeared previously at Christianity 201
One time many years ago we flirted with the idea of closing our store, and as the word hit the street, the perception became the reality: We were closing. We’ve since learned to be very guarded about making statements, and until recently, we would get someone in every 4-6 months saying they thought we had closed. Eventually time proved us to still be in business.
So I worry about the widespread publicity being given Family Christian Stores move to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It’s not the same thing as the type of bankruptcy that results in liquidation and closure, especially when a buyer is in place and you’re pledging not to close a single store or lose a single employee.
Steve Laube’s article goes into great detail on this. It’s been reprinted at Charisma and Christianity Today, and I thought of running it here, but it’s quite long. There is a link to the 150-page .pdf legal document and it’s interesting to see the various suppliers, shopping mall leases, health insurance plans, web domains, etc., that all need to be named. He compares what’s taking place to what happened with General Motors, not what happened with Borders.
To read the article, click this link.
Years ago the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship rebranded as Catch the Fire, and more recently, their bookstore rebranded as Attwell Books, named after their street address. Industry consultant Tim Underwood sent this to me last week and thought it would good to share with all of you. While our store isn’t non-profit like Attwell, I plan to adapt this and use it at some point. Click the title below to read at source.
Did you know that getting the cheapest deal sometimes isn’t the best deal? At Attwell Books, we work hard to keep prices low, but we work even harder to ensure you have an amazing experience with us. We want to see your life changed by God’s power and that’s why we run this bookstore, and quite frankly, that’s something that Amazon, iTunes or Netflix can never offer.
While we too appreciate the convenience and low cost that many big corporate retailers can provide, there are some incredible things that happen when you shop locally. Consider the following:
- We are passionate about transformation and have become experts in the kinds of teaching and music that can bring change in your life.
- We enhance the community, by providing distinctive options in our corner of the city.
- We support the local economy, your money stays here in Canada, and we hire staff from around Toronto.
- We are not-for-profit! All of the “profits” from the sale of our products go to support the life changing work of a local charity, Catch The Fire. No one’s pockets are being lined when you shop here, we just sow everything back into Kingdom expansion. We also frequently bring in products that are 100% fundraisers for causes like freedom from sexual slavery, and child exploitation.
Please consider supporting Attwell Books as your local Christian bookstore, and encourage others to think about the many benefits of buying local.
I think it’s important to state our case and fight for our right to be the customer’s “first pass” option for purchasing. It’s true that Attwell carries some very unique products in light of the doctrinal distinctives at Catch the Fire, but really, in the larger scheme of things with iTunes and Amazon, our situation is no different: Customers need the filtering that our stores offer and the expertise we bring to each sales transaction.
We’ve had a lot of critically important news and articles posted at the site over the last few days. If you haven’t browsed past articles recently, be sure to see the last 7-10 posts.
The official announcement on the store’s website only tells part of the story:
On January 5, 2015 the Resource Centre and CMU’s Bookstore officially became CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre, a new collaboration between Mennonite Church Canada and Canadian Mennonite University. All of our collective resources – for sale, loan and download – remain available here and through our new physical location at 2299 Grant Avenue in Winnipeg. This merger with CMU Bookstore expands our services to include retail products, extended hours of operation and residence in a beautiful public venue. We look forward to continuing to serve you!
An article in the Winnipeg Free Press fills in more:
The common word at a new Christian bookstore and lending library in southwest Winnipeg might be co-operation. Or synergy. Or maybe even ecumenical.
“From the same counter, you can borrow, you can buy, you can ask questions,” explains Arlyn Friesen Epp, one of the managers of CommonWord, located on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University.
The bookstore-library [held] a grand opening… on Saturday, Feb. 7, just weeks after Friesen Epp moved his collection of 7,000 books and DVDs from the offices of Mennonite Church Canada to the new building at 2299 Grant Ave.
CommonWord is located inside Marpeck Commons, which also houses a coffee shop and the university library, and is linked to the southern part of the campus by a skywalk over Grant Avenue.
The not-for-profit venture combines an academic bookstore, giftware, fair-trade items such as coffee and olive oil from Ten Thousand Villages and a denominational resource centre of books, DVDs, online videos, podcasts and other electronic resources.
But the whole story? I sense this is something you’d need to experience to understand it. In many ways, it rewrites the playbook on what constitutes Christian resource retail…
And your store may have a Facebook page, but you probably don’t post this sort of thing very often:
But yes, there are books:
The Free Press article continues:
Materials from the lending library, owned and operated by Mennonite Church Canada, sit in the middle of the spacious store, with catalogue stickers indicating the items are for loan, not for sale. Borrowers from within the denomination access the materials for free, and other users can pay a yearly membership of $30 or one-time borrowing fee of $7.
The library section includes Anabaptist publications, as well as worship resources and educational materials.
With a visible location, and easy parking west of the building, Friesen Epp expects more walk-in customers of all denominational stripes coming to browse, borrow or buy.
The Anabaptist resources referred to are described as the “Largest curated collection of Anabaptist books and resources in Canada – for loan, sale and download.” The website boasts:
It doesn’t matter if you’re on Vancouver Island or in Petitcodiac, New Brunswick. You don’t have to be a pastor or church council chair. You don’t even have to be Mennonite. We think there’s something here for just about everybody.
We’re here for you – sifting and sorting, putting the best resources forward, available to personally respond to your query. Whether you’re planning a worship service, looking for a small group study or gift idea, or simply seeking personal inspiration, we’ll help point you in the right direction.
Buy, borrow, download, consult or link – it’s all easily done from this location.
The last word belongs to the university president as quoted in the Free Press article
The $14.4-million building, which opened for the winter semester, was designed to be a hub for university students and the broader community, says president Cheryl Pauls.
“We didn’t want to build only a library, but we wanted to build a public gathering place.”
Common Word Bookstore partners with Ten Thousand Villages
Any advertising you see below this point does not originate with Christian Book Shop Talk
In many respects, it’s unfortunate that local news coverage of local Christian retailers is never so good as when the store is closing. Perhaps that’s just a consequence of the “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy of journalism, or perhaps we don’t our job well as retailers in creating buzz for events in our stores while we’re still up and running.
This January 31st story on Master’s Way in Pembroke, Ontario was well-written and provided an excellent history of the business from its founding as Bailey’s Christian Books Store up to the present. The article concludes by clearly demonstrating the loss of one such store to a local community, and raises the issue of where people can go to find both the products and the fellowship.
…When the store was relocated to the building at 375 Pembroke St. E, [present owner Tim Moss] an established certified accountant, ran his accounting business upstairs while his wife managed the bookstore on the main floor…
“We really served the whole market,” Moss said. “We often heard we had better selection than other stores in communities much larger than ours.”
…The Master’s Way developed a loyal clientele over the years. It is this aspect of the business which is the hardest to give up.
“We were seen as the multi-denominational centre for believers,” he said. “People would come here and converse about what was happening within their churches, and it’s sad we’re not going to be providing that anymore.”
“There isn’t a common ground anymore.”
The Healeys [former owners] agreed, saying this loss of human contact is something which will be keenly felt.
“It was amazing the people who would come in (to the store) who needed encouragement and prayer,” Melanie Healey said. She noted people who were seeking answers often found them whole browsing through the pages of the books they sold.
“If you are a seeker, where do you go?”
Read the entire piece at the Pembroke Daily Observer.
As stores close, new locations and new concepts are rising. Check back tomorrow for a weekend article about a new retail concept in Winnipeg where you can buy books or simply borrow them!