It’s a shame to lose Family Christian Stores

We are saddened at the news that downtown Clinton is losing a vital and important business — one that has been a mainstay for nearly two decades.

Word spread last week that Family Christian Stores would be closing its doors, and it’s not just the Sampson location, but all 240 retail facilities in 36 states. It is an unfortunate testament to a now growing song: retail chains are losing ground as internet sales gain momentum.

We are seeing it across the board, with stores like JC Penny, Sears and Macy’s already feeling a significant pinch, and shoppers more often than not turning to sites like Amazon for its purchases.

We are fortunate here in Sampson County that residents support their own, shopping local first, understanding that it is important to stand behind those who stand behind you. Local businesses are the ones that support our schools, our building programs and a plethora of charities week after week. Giving to them means returning some of that which we’ve been given, and it’s the right thing to do.

That’s why we urge support of downtown businesses as well as those in and around all of Sampson. The owners of these businesses are our friends and neighbors, the people who support us day after day.

While Family Christian, which opened in Clinton in 1999, isn’t a homegrown store, it had the same flavor and feel, and we are just as sad to see it go as we would be any of the other stores in our downtown. They have provided a much needed service which will be missed by many.

Unfortunately, the national store’s demise may have as much to do about the subject matter as the switch from brick and mortar shopping to surfing the web.

It’s frightening to think, but could the store closings mean fewer and fewer people have a need for the Bible-based faith materials that places like Family Christian offered? At Family Christian here in Clinton, materials were designed to help individuals find, grow, share and celebrate their faith. From t-shirts and artwork to Bibles, devotionals, study materials, DVDs and tapes, the Family Christian store had unique offerings that centered around a person’s faith.

Perhaps it’s an alarmist attitude, but to see the demise of a store which, by virtue of its merchandise, promotes hope and faith, is sad.

This is a time in our nation’s history when searching for hope, finding faith and studying God’s word is desperately needed. While not all of us are Christians, in Sampson County, at least, the largest majority of us are, and spreading our faith is important as we try to come together to find peace and share love.

While the demise of one business doesn’t denote a dwindling of faith, it does gives us pause.

Our downtown is losing a longtime, good neighbor, and Christians are losing a valuable resource. We thank Family Christian for being part of our community. They served us well.