After 57 years on North Broadway, the family-owned Christian Book and Gift Shop announced Monday it will close its doors for good on Dec. 31.
In a note to customers, owner/manager Karen Mulholland McKenzie and co-manager Judy Mulholland stated it was a heart-breaking decision to close the store at 815 N. Broadway.
Christian Book and Gift was launched by Karen's parents, Dennis and Elaine Mulholland, in 1957, when they purchased the Home Book Shop from Harry Boyer. They ran the store for many years out of the family’s nearby home on North Broadway, until expanding into the commercial store and growing it into one of the largest stores of its kind in the region.
“We’d ... like to express our deep sense of grief over no longer being able to provide this service to our customers and our community," they wrote. "There are myriad challenges in running a Christian retail business and independent bookstore — challenges that require youth and energy to stay in the game."
As the store has struggled, the Mulhollands have been talking to several Christian retailer chains looking for a buyer, but they were unable line up anyone to take over the store.
The store temporarily closed on Monday to prepare for a "Going Out of Business" sale and will re-open with marked down products on Thursday.
In their statement, the family voiced their appreciation for their "loyal customers" and their 11 employees, "many of whom have been with the bookstore through several building expansions and countless story times, summer tent sales and events with local and national Christian authors."
This announcement follows on the heels on the recent sale of the store, its parking lot and four houses to Samaritan Bethany. The senior living facility is just across Eighth Street from the book store, and its employee parking lot is adjacent to it. Samaritan Bethany closed on the purchase on Oct. 31.
"We have no current plans for the property," said Sue Knutson of Samaritan Bethany. "When we expanded the lot a while back, we let everyone in the neighborhood know that we'd be interested in buying property in the area. The siblings recently decided they were ready to sell."
Knutson said Samaritan Bethany had intended to lease the 7,500-square-foot store to the family, so they could keep the business running. Now that it's closing, she said they will look for a retailer to take over the space.
The Mulhollands also hope another business will step into the space.
"Our prayer is that a business person with a heart for this type of store will come to the area and open a great shop that will meet the changing needs in this community,” they wrote in their announcement.