In what continues to be a difficult time for national brick-and-mortar retailers, two companies with stores in Whatcom County announced they will be closing some or all of their stores.
Family Christian announced it would be closing all of its stores after 85 years in business. The company has more than 240 stores in 36 states, including shops at 3560 Meridian St. in Bellingham and 1712 Front St. in Lynden.
“We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” Chuck Bengochea, company president, said in a news release. “Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline. In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market.
“We have prayerfully looked at all possible options, trusting God’s plan for our organization, and the difficult decision to liquidate is our only recourse.”
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On Friday, J.C. Penney Co. announced it will be closing up to 140 stores as well as two distribution centers in the coming months, but didn’t say which stores would be shut down.
The company noted in a news release that a full list of planned closures will be released in mid-March, after it notifies impacted employees. The company also is initiating a voluntary early retirement program for about 6,000 employees.
J.C. Penney has a store at Bellis Fair, and is one of the original tenants of the mall. In June 2016 Sephora opened its cosmetic store inside JCPenney, with hundreds of people lining up for the opening.
J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison acknowledged in an article by The Associated Press that the company wasn’t strategic with promotions, which hurt profit margins. Retailers like J.C. Penney also are continuing to adjust to people shopping more online.
This comes on the heels of other national retailers announcing store closures in the first two months of 2017, including Kmart and Macy’s. The Bellingham Kmart and Macy’s stores were not on those closure lists.
Wet Seal, which announced it was shutting down its stores, began a closing business sale earlier this month, including at its Bellis Fair location.