Recently, the greater Christian community in the Treasure Valley was saddened by the realization that Family Christian Bookstore in Boise was closing. This, I am sure, was a decision made at the corporate level, but the ripple effects affect many people — both employees and customers — in our area.
The changing culture of shopping online certainly has made it difficult, if not impossible, for brick-and-mortar retailers to remain in business. The internet vendors can operate from a warehouse with a minimal staff, and do not have the costs of leases, utilities and the staff it takes to maintain a retail store. Local retailers are just not able to maintain the inventory that would be available online. Major retail chains, like Macy’s, Penney’s and Sears, have felt the impact of this customer shift. Store closings are reported all over the nation. The empty windows in our mall hauntingly stare out at the dwindling crowds. What will our city centers become without retail stores?
While many of us shop on the internet because of greater choice and lower prices, we must take some responsibility for these store closings. For all the bargains we have received, we are eventually going to deprive ourselves of the “shopping experience.” What would the Christmas season be like without strolling from store to store, examining the merchandise and listening to music? Buying clothes without trying them on is a gamble that could eventually create more hassle in returning them for credit. And the more we rely on internet shopping, the more we will expose ourselves to fraud and security breaches. But the reality is the current trend is toward internet shopping — until people tire of the impersonal relationships it creates. Perhaps in the future the pendulum will swing back toward a more personal retail environment.
One of the joys of living in a community has been the interaction between customers and retailers, whether in the stores or the various restaurants. In fact, many times it has been the contact with the salespeople that have made the retail experience so enjoyable.
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When I heard the news that our main Christian retailer was closing, I was grieved for three reasons. First, I will miss the experience of strolling through the store, glancing through the books and music. That was its own therapy. Second, I will miss the interaction I developed with some of the employees. That expanded my sense of fellowship and appreciation of their Christian character. And third, my heart went out to the management and employees whose livelihoods are directly affected by this closing.
For many years, the management and staff of this store provided a haven for many people across the valley. The store was a place where wholesome gifts could be purchased; prayers were offered for burdened people; resources were provided for personal edification; and missions’ funds could be sent throughout the world. The staff and management have been God’s servants in our community, and we will miss the sanctuary they provided.
Our collective prayers are offered for Robert, the general manager, and all of his employees that their hearts will be filled with peace and trust in God for their future. May they all find meaningful employment — filled with the sense that their Lord was pleased with their service to his people.
We are all a richer, more blessed people because of your presence in Boise. Thank you!
Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise.
The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.