More About the Family Christian Stores Bankruptcy

Last week we discussed the details of the Family Christian Stores (FCS) Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Since then I have spoken to numerous publishers and both industry and outside experts. Much new information has surfaced. What I’m writing here is based on those conversations and on a number of public news reports.

Who is Going to Get Paid?

FCS owes more than $40 million in unpaid receivables (due to publishers and vendors) which is an unsecured debt. It is being assumed that none of these bills will be paid. This is a devastating blow to many publishers and vendors.

Don’t forget that although a purchase price of $73 million has been proposed for the stores, only $28 million of that purchase price is in cash.  That $28 million is then what would be available to pay creditors, and the debts are closer to $100 million.

There is a $34 million bank loan from Credit Suisse AG. This is a secured debt, which means they are among the first in line to be paid. Their representative lawyer was quoted as saying “It’s hard to believe it all vaporized” referring to the money loaned to FCS in 2012.

There is an additional $23 million bank loan that is also a secured debt. The surprise was that this debt is no longer held by JP Morgan Chase Bank. Instead one of the owners of FCS, Richard L. Jackson, acquired that debt through an entity called Family Christian Special Funding. And since Mr. Jackson is also part of the bid to purchase the bankrupt assets of FCS he is, at the same time, a suitor, a creditor, and an owner. Michael Maggio, an attorney for the Office of the United States Trustee, said “This man is wearing three hats.” The lawyer representing Jackson’s affilitate responded by saying “Let’s not put a black hat on my client.” (quoted from the excellent article by Jim Harger at Mlive.com, the website of the Grand Rapids Press.)

Regardless of how many hats or what color they are, it is obvious that there is a very complicated relationship between Jackson and his partners, the bankrupt stores, and the non-profit that owns them. The court will have to sort that all out.

Further Pain for Publishers and Vendors

To further complicate matters there is a special situation regarding Consignment Inventory. Consignment Inventory is where the supplier sends product to the stores, but keeps the title and ownership of that product until it is sold.

This arrangement began many years ago when a number of publishers and vendors came up with a creative marketing and sales strategy with FCS. The publishers and vendors would ship inventory to FCS on consignment and FCS would not have to pay until the product was sold. I remember back in the 90s when this arrangement began to take shape. Publishers’ sales increased because the product was on the shelf and they were not at the continued mercy of budgetary constraints normally associated with retail. In essence the stores warehoused “unsold” inventory. The practice benefited FCS (for cash flow reasons) and benefited the publishers and vendors (for sales reasons).

Until now.

As mentioned above there is $40 million in unpaid and unsecured receivables. This is product actually purchased by FCS and invoiced by their vendors. But buried in the 150 page bankruptcy filing in paragraph 48 and in schedule 4.5 is the request by FCS to keep all $20 million in consignment inventory…without having to pay anything for it.

One executive with whom I discussed this said that adding the consignment loss to the receivables owed means that their company’s potential loss nearly quadruples into the millions. Not only would they lose the cash for product sold but also everything remaining on the shelves of the 266 FCS stores and in the FCS distribution warehouse in unsold inventory.

In looking at the list of consignment vendors in the court documents, well over a hundred vendors have products on consignment, which they still technically own, but for which they may never get paid. How many of them can absorb losses like these?

If both the receivables and the consignment inventory is cleared from the books, FCS will, in essence, have received a $60 million infusion but at the price of their publishing partners.

Author’s Concerns

As mentioned in the previous post, the unpaid receivables will have to be written off by the publisher. The sales made under those invoices will be reversed and royalties reduced accordingly.

If FCS is granted ownership of the consignment inventory at no cost, that will likely be accounted for as product given away since the products were never actually sold and billed. There should not be any effect on an author’s royalty earnings.

If FCS is not granted ownership and consignment inventory is sold, the question is whether these would fall under new receivables due to the publishers and vendors. If those are paid, then the author gets paid. If those are unpaid, the author is unpaid.

If authors have questions or concerns they should talk with their literary agent or with their publisher.

Charitable Donations Made by Family Christian Stores

When FCS was purchased in 2012, much was made of the fact that the business would remain in Christian hands and dedicated to the Lord’s work.  In 2013, the business was placed in a non-profit entity. In the bankruptcy filing it is stated that FCS has donated $300,000 to charitable causes since they took over the company.

When describing this situation I’ve been asked, “How can FCS donate money when they owe so much money to their creditors?” That is an excellent question.

Technically everything was “fine” until the bankruptcy filing two weeks ago. And the donation question was not an issue.

But now questions are being raised.

As mentioned, there has been $300,000 donated by FCS in the past two years. (This is over and above any donations made in-store by customers.) While the grand total is wonderful it is a very small percentage of the approximately $450 million in gross sales generated by FCS over the past two years.

If gross sales over the last two years were $450 million and Cost of Sales was 40% (an industry average used for these type of exercises) then gross profit was $270,000,000 ($270 million). That makes the donation of $300,000 a little more than .01% of gross profit. This suggests there was very little profit from which to donate.

The intent to donate profits was noble. But when there aren’t any profits we are only left with good intentions. And noble intentions don’t pay the bills.

The acquisition of FCS by Jackson and his partners in 2012 was evidently done with the honorable intent to direct the profits of their business into charitable causes. But the debt incurred as part of the leveraged buyout, coupled with a difficult retail environment has made the venture a financial disaster.

Some have wondered if it wouldn’t have been better if they had put their millions directly into a non-profit to support those same ministries. Then there would have been millions directed into ministry instead of only $300,000. Maybe then, bankers, creditors, authors and artists, wouldn’t be now left with empty pockets.

What’s Next?

Obviously the courts will process all the claims and counterclaims. Whether FCS will get to keep the consignment inventory is an important question to many. Whether there will be anything to pay the $40 million in receivables is unlikely.

The management of FCS would like to say they can keep all the stores open and all the employees untouched. The reality may not be as cheery. Typical reorganizations mean reduction in costs, closing unprofitable stores, and the loss of jobs. We will have to see how that plays out.

It is unlikely that publishers and vendors will be willing to continue the consignment inventory practice. Again, much will depend on the court proceedings.

No one wants to lose an important account like FCS. For some publishers or vendors FCS represented a major slice of their annual business. But at the same time, if FCS cannot pay their bills, selling to them is untenable.

There has been a long and rich retail history with the Family Christian Stores (originally a part of the Zondervan family and later the Zondervan corporation). When I started in Christian retail in 1981 they had 40 stores in their chain and by 2012 there were 280. Obviously there are decades of goodwill  that is now in jeopardy because of this Chapter 11 reorganization effort.

Update – April 10, 2015

The Christian Bookseller’s web site released the following information:

The Grand Rapids, MI, court handling the Family Christian Stores (FCS) chapter 11 bankruptcy issued an order last week approving bidding procedures for the sale of substantially all of the chain’s assets and set May 12 as the a deadline for purchase bids to be submitted.

Court documents indicate FCS is trying to find another purchaser of the entire company, after withdrawing a controversial plan for an insider purchase by the chain’s owner Richard Jackson.

The court also established June 9 as the last date for all creditors to file proofs of debt claims.

Other debtors filed documents recently to claim consignment merchandise, including Oasis Audio. At least one creditor, Velcor Leasing Corp., filed a motion to compel payment and overturn a stay so it could get paid for leased vehicles and fuel expenses. Suppliers have about $20 million worth of merchandise on consignment to FCS. About 30 suppliers earlier filed objections to retain ownership and gain possession of consignment merchandise.

FCS reports about $100 million total in various types of debt on annual sales of $230 million. It projects declining sales in 2015 fiscal year to about $216 million.

The courts also approved procedures and payments for FCS leaders and for professionals involved with the bidding and valuation arrangements.

61 Responses to More About the Family Christian Stores Bankruptcy

  1. Avatar
    Patrick Carr February 23, 2015 at 5:24 am #

    The portion of the bankruptcy filing requesting to keep the consignment seems to me to be little more than asking a judge to approve theft. By the consignment agreement those goods belong to the publisher until sold. Now FCS wants ownership of those goods transferred to them because they’re vastly unprofitable.

    Good luck with that. Even if the court goes along with the idea, they can’t force publishers to supply FCS with more goods in the future. Without suppliers FCS will have stores with empty shelves. At this point it seems as if the tune has been called and the dance has begun. All that remains is the slow, awkward demise of the business.

  2. Avatar
    Mary Connealy February 23, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    Is the former ownership by Zondervan part of why the debt owed to HCCP is so high? That’s such a shockingly high number compared to the other debts

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube February 23, 2015 at 10:50 am #

      Mary,
      No. There is no connection between HCCP (Harper Collins Christian Publishing) and Family Christian.

      In 1994 the ownership of the Family Bookstores, as they were called at that time, bought themselves from HarperCollins (the parent company of Zondervan) and there has been no connection ever since.

      In 1999 a private equity firm bought the chain.

      In 2012 the current ownership bought the chain from that private equity firm.

      The reason HCCP is owed so much is that they are the largest Christian publishing company by a huge margin. HCCP consists of both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. And consider that Zondervan and Nelson are also Bible publishers with the NIV under exclusive license control by Zondervan.

      • Avatar
        Doug Ross February 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

        Hi Steve – Your coverage of this is excellent. When I first heard about Family’s intent to contribute all of its profits I was pretty sure that was going to be impossible. In any business – especially retail – everything is moving along too fast to actually do that. “Profit” is illusive. Secondly every business either must grow or slow down – growth comes from re-invested profits. Thirdly the real ministry of every “Christian business” is going to be whether or not it pays it’s bills, treats it’s customers fairly, and it’s vendors.

        When I owned an ad agency a very large Christian ministry owed me $150,000 – and then said it couldn’t pay me as agreed – it took them well over one year – and I had to pay the vendors before I saw a dime.

        Christian publishing and Retail will be deeply scarred by this over a long period of time – and NO – the same people should not be able to bid on this and start over without paying the publishers. And, certainly they should not be able to keep the product they have on consignment.

        That’s just a few of my thoughts on the subject.

        Doug Ross, President Emeritus Evangelical Christian Publishers Association

        • Avatar
          Steve Laube February 25, 2015 at 10:37 am #

          Doug,

          Nice to hear from you! You are among those who owned a Christian bookstore and know the fiscal challenges.

          Doug knows this, but I shopped at his store when I was a college student! Little did we know our paths would cross so many years later.

          Steve

  3. Avatar
    Beverly Brooks February 23, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    I appreciate the information with the commitment to be fair and to research. Thank you for putting this in understandable language.

    While I am not a finance person, reading this has prompted me to look at my own small budget to make sure I am handling it appropriately.

    Taking care of the Lord’s resources is a privilege and a staggering task some days whether in plenty or want. People make mistakes.

    Praying for wisdom for all and comfort for those suffering loss.

  4. Avatar
    Sue Raatjes February 23, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    Thank you for keeping us informed. You must be reading hundreds of pages of documents. You’ve summed it up with clarity and I am grateful.

  5. Avatar
    Paul Wilkinson February 23, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    Looking at the list of consignment vendors on pages 68 and following in the Chapter 11 filing, it’s quite clear that some of these vendors simply will not survive this. It’s already been announced that Barbour Publishing in Ohio has cut staff. But imagine the smaller gift vendor or publisher which struck an exclusive deal with FCS, their product not being sold at Parable, Mardel or LifeWay stores. If any of these had all their eggs in the one basket, they are as good as done. Regardless of which way the ruling goes with respect to consignment vendors, the money just isn’t there to pay them.

    The ripple effects of this are going to continue for years.

    • Avatar
      Paul Wilkinson February 23, 2015 at 11:10 am #

      http://www.timesreporter.com/article/20150219/NEWS/150219142/1994/NEWS

      Posted Feb. 19, 2015 at 3:57 PM

      Barbour Publishing Inc., a Christian publishing company, is laying off employees, according to a statement issued by Timothy Martins, president and chief executive officer.

      Martins mentioned the Feb. 11 filing for bankruptcy protection by Family Christian Stores, the largest national retailer of Christian products, as a factor. Family Christian Stores has 266 stores in 36 states…

      • Avatar
        Steve Laube February 23, 2015 at 11:39 am #

        Thank you Paul!

        That news had not made it into our news feeds yet.

        This is not a happy time… I chose the graphic for last week’s blog on purpose… “the dominos begin to fall.”

        Steve

  6. Avatar
    Pamela Meyers February 23, 2015 at 8:14 am #

    Is this consignment deal made with their suppliers unique to them? As an author with a very small amount of books in stores on consignment, it’s easy to translate my thinking to the ginormous situation this presents in Family’s case. I was stunned to think that a store chain had this kind of arrangement with publishers.

    The small Family store a couple miles from me is the only Christian store still around that is close to me. The next closest Christian store is a Lifeway a good 30-40 minutes away. The current staff there is very friendly, but I admit my only customer business, as a rule, is greeting cards when a birthday or whatever comes up. Even with their coupons, I can generally get a book for less elsewhere. As a local author, Family at the corporate level has not be encouraging to any of us in the way of helping promote our books through signing events or other things.

  7. Avatar
    Aaron McCarver February 23, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    This saddens me so much. I got my start in the Christian publishing industry by working in a locally owned, very small chain of stores in the Jackson, Mississippi, area called Maranatha. These were eventually sold to Family Christian stores. I worked for FCS stores off and on for a little while on a part-time basis. I have a couple of close friends who have worked with this chain for many, many years. I am praying this all turns out well for the vendors, authors, bookstore employees, and all affected by this. Thanks for keeping us updated on this, Steve.

  8. Avatar
    Mocha with Linda February 23, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    Such a sad situation. And it highlights how actions and decisions can have such a ripple effect and impact others.

    I told someone a while back (before any of this ever happened) that FCS used to be Zondervan (& they had a store in the mall) back in the early ’80’s and they thought I was nuts. Glad someone else confirms that. 🙂 I have such sweet memories of that store and of discovering and buying Eugenia Price’s multiple historic fiction series there.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube February 23, 2015 at 11:04 am #

      Linda,

      Yes, FCS began as part of the Zondervan family legacy back in the 30s.

      Zondervan and the Zondervan Family Stores were bought by Harper & Row in 1988.

      In 1994 the Family Stores did a leveraged buyout of the chain from HarperCollins.

      And for those with long memories…FCS bought out the Joshua’s Christian bookstore chain in 1998 after Johsua’s was on the verge of bankruptcy.

      By 2000 there were 356 stores across 39 states.

  9. Avatar
    Pamela Meyers February 23, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Steve, I asked in my earlier comment, but it was never answered. Maybe you missed it. Is the consignment arrangement Family had with their suppliers a common one for big chain stores like this one? It seems to be a surprise to any of the authors I’ve talked to about it. Authors place their books on consignment in stores, but we’ve never heard of large publishing companies doing this.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube February 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      Pamela,

      As far as I know, this consignment arrangement with FCS is unique to that chain. One that grew out of some economic necessity and creative initiative nearly 20 years ago.

      And not all publishers participate.

      It is not something you will find as a practice elsewhere, as far as I know.

      Steve

  10. Avatar
    Jessica Nelson February 24, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    Wow…just wow…
    Thanks for the detailed post. It’s very informative!

  11. Avatar
    Jack D WALKER February 24, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    The cascading impact and fall-out will affect thousands for years to come. Small Christian publishers and vendors lead an exhaustive line suffering major or fatal damage.
    Appreciate your well-written wordsmith skills, along with objective, unbiased research.
    One does wonder … what God may raise from the ashes, eh?

  12. Avatar
    Frank B r e e d e n February 24, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Steve, I appreciate you including the “Author’s Concerns” section in your piece, and would echo that all copyrighted products with attendant rights and royalty obligations have the same concern here (Books, music, licensed merchandise, etc.).

    Regarding the status of the consigned inventory arrangement, you write (“Further Pain …”) that this creative arrangement between the Vendors and FCS originally allowed the VENDOR to retain “… title and ownership of that product until it is sold.”

    The Bankruptcy petition is apparently at odds with that original Agreement. I wonder if and when that arrangement changed?

    The Debtors’ inclusion of the consignment inventory in their “Assets to be Sold” description is clearly stated on Page 8, Section E, Paragraph 26. A. Somehow, it assumes a transfer of title and ownership of that inventory to themselves from the Vendors has occurred.

    It would be interesting to see upon whose balance sheet the consignment inventory is listed as an asset. And, if it changed from being a Vendor asset to a FCS asset, then (a) for what consideration and, (b) how will the Vendors’ rights licensors (Authors, Artists, Creators, et al) be compensated.

    Rightsholders have a coupled interest with these vendors. Ideally, the vendors will retain title and ownership in the consigned inventory so a broader range of options will be in their control. This consignment product should not be effectively “remaindered” in this asset sale and just given to FCS as free money. If any buyer of FCS’ assets wants to retain possession (not ownership) of this consignment inventory, they should honor the original consignment terms or immediately return the product.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube February 25, 2015 at 10:41 am #

      Well said Frank.

      I did not mean to slight those who are not authors (artists, musicians, licensed merchandise, etc.). Only that this blog is focused on the writing community since we are a literary agency.

      One of the purposes of our blog is to help our clients, and all the writing community, at the same time. Keeps our phones from ringing and our email dinging on issues like this bankruptcy!

      Steve

      • Avatar
        Frank B r e e d e n March 4, 2015 at 10:00 am #

        Steve – excuse my delayed response due to a family death & travels- I also operate a literary agency and wanted to thank you for this thread on your blog. I certainly hope that some of this great input is somehow making its way to the Bankruptcy Judge as some very valuable information and viewpoints are being shared here. I really appreciate your efforts here.

  13. Avatar
    Linda Rodante February 24, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    Thank you for the information and insight. A blow to many. A time of prayer!

  14. Avatar
    Winston Maddox February 27, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    Steve, thanks for your voice in this matter. I agree with all that’s been said and it pains me to think of all the authors, artists, vendors etc that are hurt by this. In many ways it clears up questions I have had for years. That is how could Family keep going and fund expansion when the model, in particular fixed pricing, terms of sale that did not align with the turnover of inventory, and other similar issues, did not seem to create money to reinvest into the structure and growth of the business. I would contend that the consignment deal with Family if not illegal was patently unfair especially in the light of all the energy I spent as Chairman of CBA trying to convince vendors that if they instituted the quarterback plan, financing it through increased prices, would solve the credit woes for independents and chains. How interesting to discover that all the while they were making back room deals with Family. And even more how interesting is it when Z bought Nelson they discontinued the quarterback plan (we never missed a payment the entire time on the plan) and this caused many of the stores incredible hardship because we had to be current to 30 days immediately. So we got squeezed so that Family could stay in business.
    We are still in business, times have been tough, but we press on.
    Thanks,

  15. Avatar
    Pastor Bill Bailey February 28, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    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!

  16. Avatar
    stephi nettleton March 1, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    Its hard to read these comments. I work for FCS. Been here 10yrs. Worked my way up from the bottom. Its hard to say that I have faith in my company. I have faith in God that I am not going to lose my job, and my store will not close. Its hard to take though that no one seems to mention us. The legs that FCS stands on. Thousands of us are hanging here, waiting for some type of encouragement. Since this began, I have seen how much Christians really do shoot their wounded. FCS is a business yes, but its people. Its people like me. Supporting 3 neices and nephews. Humans who God loves! Imperfect. Sinners. And trying to live for Him. He ate dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes. He will save a business that strives to serve him. He will save us. His people. My faith is small like a mustard seed right now. But that mustard seed will move mountains. You will see.

    • Avatar
      Tori Edwards March 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      I’m an employee too! And as a college student I have no clue how to comprehend any of this, from what the heck chapter 11 is (I get the gist but want more, inquisitive mind.), and I don’t know what to do if I have to look for another job. I love my job so much at FCS!

      Though the company may be filing for bankruptcy, they have the best intentions in it. Our CEO’s are often in contact through various media to even the “lowest” of us working under FCS and they were honestly so torn in having to do this.

      And at 0.01% of a non-profit giving its money… It’s crazy to think about. How little of your money would that be from your paychecks? I feel like I can say this, but I can guarantee FCS would love to be able to “tithe” the average 10-15% that is today’s culture. But I know the company as a whole wants to give 100% of profits. And profit is what is left over after bills are paid to the various companies.

  17. Avatar
    Laurence Firmlee March 2, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    While all this is going on, don’t ignore the fact that the money guy behind Family Christian is spending millions to start a movie studio and producing 90 Minutes In Heaven:

    http://deadline.com/2015/01/family-christian-retail-chain-forms-film-shingle-with-90-minutes-in-heaven-1201343935/

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/family-christian-entertainment-to-be-the-disney-of-faith-based-films-as-90-minutes-in-heaven-enters-production-132630/

  18. Avatar
    Sarah Burkman March 3, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Barbour won’t have been the only one forced to cut back staff because of Family Christian Stores. The company that I work for has cut 20% of staff, and curtailed or halted all office expenditures. In turn, this triggered a loss of an account to the small private agency who handles our housekeeping. They may have to lay-off a worker or two. We had to terminate our support of ministries that rely on us until we regain better financial health.

    Not many of us can afford what FCS has done to us. They want a clean slate. Their “plan” to near term financial recovery is to profit by being able to sell “FREE STOCK” that they have accumulated by doubling (or better) their ordering over the past 7 months. (With new people at FCS handling the ordering! [??]) They painted a robust and rosy picture – but there was an ulterior motive. Stockpiling in advance of filing for protection under Chapter 11 was part of their plan all along!

  19. Avatar
    Jimmy Stewart March 5, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks Steve for the detailed coverage.

    We purchase Christian and Family wholesome liquidation inventory for resale on our website.

    I use to be able to purchase bulk stale inventory from FCS website when they would sell clearance items. They just ran a Christmas clearance sale last week on the website and the Customer Service Manager refused my order saying he cant sell to me at a loss. In fact he even refused to reply to me until I sent an email to the SVP of HR and Bengochea four days later.

    Even though they offer free shipping on the site for over $50 purchase I had an agreement in place with them to pay the shipping on the large quantities. I was trying to help them with cash flow and rid them of the junk at even a better price than the average customer purchasing from the site.

    You would think that it would be in their best interest to liquidate the clearance items at the best value on the dollar. Makes we wonder what the courts would say on this type of management at the time of loosing money.

    I do not want to see them close and I hope it all works out but maybe they need to look at the “on the ground management” in Grand Rapids for a clue on why they are loosing money.

  20. Avatar
    Kara Swanson March 6, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    Very sad news, for sure. What a loss for so many…

  21. Avatar
    K March 22, 2015 at 4:19 am #

    Steve, Thank you for clarifying details. 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.

  22. Avatar
    Steve Laube April 10, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Update – April 10, 2015

    The Christian Bookseller’s web site released the following information:

    The Grand Rapids, MI, court handling the Family Christian Stores (FCS) chapter 11 bankruptcy issued an order last week approving bidding procedures for the sale of substantially all of the chain’s assets and set May 12 as the a deadline for purchase bids to be submitted.

    Court documents indicate FCS is trying to find another purchaser of the entire company, after withdrawing a controversial plan for an insider purchase by the chain’s owner Richard Jackson.

    The court also established June 9 as the last date for all creditors to file proofs of debt claims.

    Other debtors filed documents recently to claim consignment merchandise, including Oasis Audio. At least one creditor, Velcor Leasing Corp., filed a motion to compel payment and overturn a stay so it could get paid for leased vehicles and fuel expenses. Suppliers have about $20 million worth of merchandise on consignment to FCS. About 30 suppliers earlier filed objections to retain ownership and gain possession of consignment merchandise.

    FCS reports about $100 million total in various types of debt on annual sales of $230 million. It projects declining sales in 2015 fiscal year to about $216 million.

    The courts also approved procedures and payments for FCS leaders and for professionals involved with the bidding and valuation arrangements.

    http://cbanews.org/court-oks-fcss-sales-motion/?utm_source=wysija&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=RRWeekly-20150409

  23. Avatar
    Ronald Rust May 12, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Steve, I appreciate your knowledge on this subject. June 8, 2015, is fast coming up. How can a bankruptcy judge with any legal sense give a green light to Family Christian Book Stores?! I work part-time for FCBS and am very distraught about the whole situation. Management is telling us so many non-truths about the entire situation, even lying to us to try to boost sales! I am not comfortable doing this. I am a Christian, and I believe there is right and wrong. There is mostly wrong being done, in my view, from Jackson on down to store managers. They are painting a rosy picture for after June 8. It is my belief that the judge should order the assets be sold and the creditors paid off as much as possible. Consignment merchandise should also go back to where they were gotten. What is your latest assessment of what is going to happen. There is nothing Christian about FCBS at this time!!
    Thanks,
    Ron Rust

    • Avatar
      Tori May 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      Ron,

      I also work for FCS and I’m curious as to what “lies” you believe you’re being told. The entire company is working so hard to keep jobs going and to be able to continue blessing the ministries we serve. In all honesty I couldn’t see them being any more Christian in their actions.

      • Avatar
        K May 12, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

        Tori,
        Speaking from the point of view of a vendor, it is not Christian like what they are doing. They are putting tiny home-based businesses out of business and hurting their families by not paying them AND keeping their merchandise. They are not giving the merchandise back that they didn’t pay for… They are still selling it! How in the world do you think this is ok??

      • Avatar
        Jim May 12, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

        Somebody drinking the Kool-aid?

      • Avatar
        Paul Wilkinson May 12, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

        Tori,

        I have no doubt that as the stores continue to remain open that many positive ministry interactions are taking place on the sales floor. You are probably close to that, and from your perspective see that particular aspect of what can be accomplished through Christian retail.

        But the situation with respect to the consignment vendors is, in the view of many, clearly an ethical transgression, and a number of the small family-owned vendors impacted by this will simply be forced to dissolve one way or another. That does not, to use your words, constitute “blessing the ministries we serve.”

        • Avatar
          Tori May 22, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

          It’s under my impression, that when the chapter was officially filed and information was handed out to all the companies there was a time period in which a response was needed on whether or not items would still be available in store.

          Also, when it is all finalized, the companies will get paid a lump sum, and yes I’m aware it won’t be all that is owed. Yet, by keeping our stores open and continuing to sell items from vendors afterwards, it should, in theory, be better as the company won’t be struggling to pay off so much debt.

          Not once had the company said they weren’t going to give anybody any money. In fact, in everything I’ve heard the stewards wish they could pay it all back in full. This was never any easy decisions to be made.

          I feel confident in saying that if any suppliers feel they’re being cheated, it is not the intention. Not of the Stewards, not of anybody in managerial positions, and not any of us at the bottom of the totem pole being sales floor reps. If there was any way possible to give what was due to all, it would have been done. And it’s business in a fallen world… There’s only so much even Christians can do.

          • Avatar
            k May 23, 2015 at 7:11 am #

            I don’t know quite how to respond to this. I don’t think it would do any good. It seems as though there is a veil over people’s faces preventing them from seeing what is happening to the tiny vendors who are not secured, and have spent so much time and money working on making BY HAND (in some cases) products for them. Spent money and time in good faith that they would be paid. I am not talking about banks or credit card companies, or big companies who can afford a blow like this. I am talking about the few small businesses who were counting on this to pay their bills to keep their businesses going. Some of these businesses will go out of business and may even be forced to file personal bankruptcy themselves because of this. This seems to ALL get lost on you folks who are so caught up in the ‘Christian’ way of that company. So, this is business in this world we live in..ok. It doesn’t make it RIGHT. And it doesn’t make it Christian just because it is a Christian organization.

            • Avatar
              Tori May 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

              Nor is a Christian company obligated to pay the companies/suppliers anything from when court stuff was being decided. But Jackson had put down an even larger bid, buying back the company, but also during legal things being figured out said the company would pay back as much as they could. When filing bankruptcy all is frozen, we legally cannot pay anybody anything.

              In the conference calls our manager had over the past few months, there was always at least one steward in it too, on way or another, so all information I’ve gotten could not have come from a better source.

              Family Christian plans on paying what is owed to the best of their abilities, which is not required by legal standards.

  24. Avatar
    Pat May 22, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Woo goo. We’re gonna win! God is awesome. We will survive. I’m so happy!

    • Avatar
      Jim May 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      Sounds like good news. Did Jackson come through?

      • Avatar
        K May 23, 2015 at 7:13 am #

        Good news for whom?

    • Avatar
      K May 23, 2015 at 7:12 am #

      WHAT is exactly awesome about this? Explain, please.

  25. Avatar
    Paul Wilkinson May 23, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” Matthew 5:41
    “…if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Zaccheus – Luke 19:8)

    I think what we see over and over again in scripture is that adopting a Christian ethic compels us to go beyond any restitution that the law requires.

    In Tori’s case I would think that means that whatever financial recovery she might see — and it might be only twenty cents on the dollar or even less — the company, in whatever form it takes, still has a moral obligation to do something over and above what the court mandates in order to make this right.

    • Avatar
      Paul Wilkinson May 23, 2015 at 8:01 am #

      Sorry, I guess that should read, “in k’s case.”

      • Avatar
        Jim May 23, 2015 at 9:02 am #

        I know the sealed bids that came in on Monday were suppose to be opened on Friday. I know there was suppose to be a conference call on Friday afternoon with staff giving the results.
        So what is the results? Did Jackson come up with any more funds or did he get it cheap?
        Who are the new owners closing the transaction in June?

        • Avatar
          Steve Laube May 23, 2015 at 9:44 am #

          Jim,

          To answer your question. The whole thing may be delayed even further. Read the following article.

          http://cbanews.org/fcs-seeks-extension-in-hopes-of-a-sale/

          The article speaks of the request by FCS to delay everything for Four months.

          It also talks about the Mediator being named in a related lawsuit.

          And the request of one the secured creditors to possibly come in as a bidder using the debt they are owed as leverage to buy the assets.

          This is truly a complicated process. Multiple suits and countersuits.

          The issue of who owns the consignment inventory is still not settled.

          Steve

  26. Avatar
    Ron Rust May 27, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    I know bankruptcies are a dirty business for all concerned. Since I work part-time for FCS, I hope they come out of it all right. BUT, some things I do believe strongly about. 1) I really sorry for K and others like him with their small businesses who stand to lose their existence because of paragraph 48 of the bankruptcy papers. 2) Christians, because of who they are, are held to a higher standard by God as far as moral conduct and doing the right thing are concerned. That means they should pay all the consignment companies back in full, instead of keeping their mdse. and selling it. 3) The most important point of all—–Deut. 5: 12-14, “Be careful to observe the Sabbath day just as the Lord your God has commanded you. You are to work and do all your tasks in six days, but seventh day is the Sabbath.”
    It is hard to be a distinctively Christian business, and at the same time break one of the 10 commandments. Tell me, how can God honor this?
    There is right and there is wrong, black and white, moral and immoral. FCS, do what IS right in this situation and I believe God will honor you!

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