CBA chairman’s ‘new business model’ Print
Written by By Eric Tiansay   
Sunday, 05 April 2009 12:35 PM America/New_York
Jim Whitaker closing brick-and-mortar store, but he will stay in business

altCBA Chairman Jim Whitaker—co-owner of New Life Christian Store in Lynchburg, Va.—plans to close his brick-and-mortar shop, but he will stay in business.

“We are not shutting down; what we are doing is closing our present location and transitioning to a new business model,” he told Christian Retailing. “We will continue to serve our church/institutional accounts and others by face-to-face direct sales, Web site, e-mail and phone orders. We are also investigating other innovative avenues of marketing Christian retail product.”

The closure date to his 8,000-square-foot store had not yet been determined because “we still have a lease obligation in our shopping strip for several more months,” said Whitaker, who has owned New Life with his wife, Bonnie, for 20 years.

Whitaker told of competition from other stores having impacted New Life. LifeWay Christian Stores opened a location about a mile from New Life in November 2006.

Additionally, there is a Barnes & Noble near Whitaker’s store. The chain also plans to open another location by the end of April at the campus of Liberty University—located near New Life, WSET-TV reported.

“Anytime a chain store moves in on top of an independent store it has a devastating impact,” Whitaker told Christian Retailing last summer. “LifeWay’s move across the street from us has taken the wind out of our sails, to say the least.”

CBA President Bill Anderson told Christian Retailing that since Whitaker plans to stay in the industry, “the board has determined there is no reason to interrupt his term while he is considering a new retail business model and continues to serve his church customers.”

Whitaker, whose three-year term as CBA chairman runs through October 2010, added that “God has not withdrawn His call for my family and me to remain in Christian retail.”

“The only thing that is changing is our business model and the methods we use to sell Christian products,” he said. “I look forward (to) continuing to (serve) the Christian retail industry through my service on the CBA board and our local community. … What I will miss most is the daily interaction I have with the walk-in customers and the opportunity to minister to them on the spot.”

Whitaker took over as CBA chairman from Chris Childers, who sold his landmark family-run business while in office. Macon Christian Bookstore in Macon, Ga., opened in 1949, and was bought by Berean Christian Stores in March 2007.

Earlier this year, Berean closed down Childers’ former store in a strategic business decision that cut the number of the Cincinnati-based regional chain’s locations by almost a third.

“Due to the economic climate, we have been faced with the difficult decision of closing several of our Berean stores, including our Macon location,” Berean President Bill Simmons said on the chain’s Web site.