Family-Run Cottage-Industry Business Caught in Family Christian Drama
I’ve been subscribed to the comments on Steve Laube’s original articles about what’s happening at Family Christian, but felt that this particular one was worthy of being seen by a larger audience. In the long list of companies owed money from FCS, this story is far from unique. Many of these mom-and-pop type business were no doubt thrilled to play in the big leagues with a chain such as Family Christian Stores, but could not have imagined the risk.
I have been a vendor since 2013. I would like to give my perspective. I started my business 9 years because our oldest son, who was going through cancer treatment needed much care. I was a music teacher at the time, and started my handcrafted soap business in the hopes I could take care of our son and bring in some income to help my family. It has been a tough road, but I have worked hard to try to make a profit and build my business. I make all of my natural soaps and skin care in my home studio.
FCS came to me early 2013 wanting me to make product for their stores. This was very exciting. Even though they have extremely demanding terms, and wanted deep discounts, I took the risk to help my business and my family. I have made and packaged over 14,000 bars of soap since. I provided soaps for the fall and Christmas holidays 2013, 2014, and Spring/Summer order recently.
My husband and I hand delivered the most recent orders at the end of January, and another on February 6. I got an email with the bankruptcy notification less than a week later. I had no idea exactly the magnitude of what it meant. I was never contacted by my buyer. Surely FCS knew they were going bankrupt when placing the order in October, and then receiving it in January and February! When I emailed my buyer, he said, “Sorry about this, but you will not be paid for the delivered products”. I was floored. I contacted a friend who is an attorney and was shocked to learn there is basically nothing I can do. And then I learn they will not let me have my products back….and then I see them being sold in stores! That is theft, is it not??
I made and packaged this product with my own hands, hand delivered, and purchased displays required of me. They have $20,000 worth of my soaps and displays. I am devastated. My tiny micro-business is not only in trouble, now, my family is affected, as well. I have a small cushion to pay my business bills for a few more months. Without the money owed to me that I was counting on, I will not be able to keep this business going. Because I am a LLC, my personal finances/assets are not protected in this kind of situation. I stand to not only lose my business, but much more. I am angry, in shock, sad, and devastated. I am working hard to scramble around to try to bring in other streams of income.