BY MARTY KING©2013 Baptist Press
Over a two-week period, LifeWay Christian Stores is opening 17 new stores in seven states -- the result of acquiring Berean Christian Stores with locations primarily in California, Arizona, and the Midwest.
Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, the parent company of LifeWay Christian Stores, said the acquisition is a tremendous opportunity to serve more customers in new communities.
"Berean, like LifeWay, has been known for their commitment to serving church customers. This acquisition significantly increases LifeWay's opportunities for service and ministry across the country," Rainer said.
By the end of October, LifeWay will operate 186 stores in 28 states.
Tim Vineyard, vice president of LifeWay's retail division, said his staff are opening the stores as quickly as possible but first must conduct comprehensive inventories, convert the stores to LifeWay's systems and products, and train employees.
"It's a herculean effort by our staff -- both in the stores and at our Nashville headquarters," Vineyard said. "But we are committed to opening as quickly as possible in order to serve our customers with LifeWay Bible studies, music and VBS materials, B&H Publishing's Bibles, books and church supplies and a variety of inspirational gifts and home décor."
Three former Berean stores in both Ohio and Pennsylvania and one each in Georgia and Montana already have opened as LifeWay Stores, while seven stores in California and two in Arizona will open the first week of October.
Berean Christian Stores was started in 1934 and purchased by Joseph and Deanna Gimelli in 2009. The Gimellis said they are pleased to transition their stores to LifeWay stores.
"Frankly, we cannot think of a partner more compatible and more fully committed to meeting the needs of believers and their churches," Joseph Gimelli said. "This opportunity is truly a blessing for our customers and our employees."
While technology systems at the new stores are being converted immediately to LifeWay's systems, Vineyard said transition of employee uniforms, internal and external signage, and merchandising plans will take a few weeks.