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Day of retail

"Day of retail" Continued...

Issue: "Bush's moral mandate," Nov. 13, 2004

John Cully is the owner of one of the largest independent Christian bookstores in the country. He has operated Evangelical Bible Bookstore in San Diego for 34 years, but has never opened his doors on a Sunday. "It's simply breaking God's law to be open on Sundays," Mr. Cully said. "I don't work on Sunday because God says not to in His Word. The Fourth Commandment says, 'Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall do no work.'"

Ms. Powers said the leadership of Family Christian Bookstores considered the commandment when deciding whether or not to open on Sundays. Since FCB leaders view the company as a ministry as well as a business, Ms. Powers said they felt justified in opening on Sundays, but said the potential for increased revenue was not a factor in the decision.

Lifeway Christian Stores, the second-largest Christian retail chain in the country, also views itself as a ministry, but has no plans to open on Sundays, according to Bill Nielsen, vice president of marketing: "Our conviction is that our employees and customers are better served by reserving Sunday as a day of worship and rest."

At least two large secular corporations have closed their doors on Sundays for biblical reasons as well. Chick-fil-A, the second-largest chicken fast-food restaurant in the country, has never opened on a Sunday. Chick-fil-A spokesman Jerry Johnston said Truett Cathy, the company's founder, decided to remain closed on Sundays because "he believes you can apply biblical principles in the workplace and be successful." Mr. Johnston said Chick-fil-A, with an estimated $1 billion in sales last year, does not calculate how much money it could make by opening on Sundays: "We don't view being closed on Sundays in terms of revenue loss; we view it as an investment in the business."

Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts chain with 335 stores in 27 states, does know how much it cost its corporation to begin closing its doors on Sundays six years ago. Spokesman Bill Hane said Hobby Lobby stores were open on Sundays until 1998 when the owner decided "it would be more pleasing to the Lord to close on Sundays." Since Sunday was the stores' second-biggest shopping day, closing meant big financial losses-about $100 million the first year, according to Mr. Hane. "On paper the decision was hard to justify, but we were convinced we were doing the right thing," he said. Mr. Hane said customers adjusted their shopping habits to the new schedule, the company continued to grow, and Hobby Lobby projects sales of $1.4 billion this year.

FCB President Dan Browne told the Associated Press that his company's decision on whether to remain open on Sundays was different than a chain like Chick-fil-A because FCB sells "ministry products." "No one's going to go to hell for not eating a chicken sandwich," Mr. Browne said.

Ms. Powers said Family Christian Bookstores polled its customer base before opening on Sundays. The results: Eighty percent said they shopped on Sundays, and 89 percent said they would shop in FCB if it were open on Sundays. Evangelical Bible Bookstore's Mr. Cully said there is nothing in his bookstore or any other Christian bookstore that can't wait until Monday, and that FCB's customer survey reveals "a weakness in the church."

Mr. Cully also said that Christian bookstores opening on Sundays "reflect the quality of the literature they are selling." A call to the Family Christian Bookstores national customer-service center revealed the number of books in its inventory specifically about the Sabbath-zero.

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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