So when the Borders bookstore chain—the nation’s second-largest—finishes closing all of its stores this month, Christian retailers see a window of opportunity in the death of a mega-competitor that once threatened to put them out of business.

With 70 percent of Christian retailers reporting flat or declining sales last year, and overall sales dropping 3 percent according to the Christian retail association CBA, proactive Christian booksellers, marketing agencies and the 1,200-member CBA are taking any opportunities they can.

After Borders announced its liquidation in July, Colorado Springs, Colo.-based CBA sent an alert to member stores: “Post Borders Growth Strategy: As Borders Shuts its Doors, Christian Booksellers Should Open Theirs Wider.”

“Today, Borders is irrelevant in the world of bookselling,” the document states. “If we do not adapt to the changing marketplace and new technologies, our influence will diminish or disappear altogether.”

The letter offers suggestions for retailers including discounts for customers with Borders loyalty cards and trying to lure former Borders customers into Christian stores.

“It is always sad when a bookstore that makes Christian materials available to the public can no longer do that,” said Curtis Riskey, CBA executive director. “However, the chain’s demise does create more opportunities for independent local Christian stores to fill the gap.”

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