The franchise claims changing consumer behavior and declining sales led to the nationwide closure

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FARMINGTON — The only major local outlet for Christian-related items is closing early next week as the result of a nationwide liquidation of the franchise.

The Family Christian store, located in Suite G1 of San Juan Plaza, 3030 E. Main Street, carries a wide variety of Christian-themed merchandise including books, DVDs, CDs, clothing, jewelry and toys. The store has been open in Farmington since 1995.

According to a press release from the Family Christian corporate office in Grand Rapids, Mich., the company is closing 240 retail stores in 36 states because of changing consumer behavior and declining sales.

"We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy," said Chuck Bengochea, company president, in the release. "Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline. In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market. We have prayerfully looked at all possible options, trusting God's plan for our organization, and the difficult decision to liquidate is our only recourse."

Monday will be the Farmington location's last day, said store employees who declined to be identified or to provide additional comments. Many of the items in the store are drastically marked down to clear merchandise.

Kenny Hahn is owner and manager of Next Clothing store, which is next door to the Family Christian store.

"It's not good that they're closing, because empty space is no good," said Hahn. "Nearby businesses bring other people into our store, so it's good to have cooperation between the stores."

Craig Yoshimoto, property manager for San Juan Plaza,, said his office didn't know until recently about the store's imminent departure.

"All we've heard is that the franchise is closing," he said. "They've been very good tenants, and they've had a busy business. They'll really be missed – there's nothing like them (offering such a wide variety of Christian merchandise) within a couple hundred miles of Farmington, so we hate to see them go."

Several customers who were browsing in the store on Thursday also expressed sadness at the store's closing.

Juanita Ferguson lives in Durango, but visits Family Christian whenever she comes to Farmington.

"I think this is a loss for the community," she said. 'it's a great store and carries great merchandise."

For Domenica Rardin, who works as a youth leader at the First Baptist Church in Farmington, the loss of the store will mean a scramble to find insp

irational journals and other Christian-related items for her job.

"I come in regularly to buy cards and get little gifts," said Rardin. "I don't know if there's any other place in town to buy items such as little Christian bracelets for kids."

There are several other local stores that carry some Christian-themed items, such as Hobby Lobby and EntertainMart, which has a large selection of Christian and faith-based books.

"We're planning to carry more Christian items such as Bible covers and notebook tabs, especially since the other store is closing," said Austin Campbell, manager of EntertainMart's book department. "But it will mostly be book-related items."

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621. 

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