BANGOR, Maine — Citing slumping sales in a digital age, a religious book and music store will close its doors at the end of the month after 25 years in business.
Lamb’s Book and Bible, which opened in 1992 on Harlow Street and later moved to the mall area, has seen declining sales for a few years, according to owner Royce Cross. Lamb’s also sells gifts and religious-themed merchandise.
“Books and CDs have been our primary sellers, but people are no longer buying as many as they once did,” he said. “Electronics are everywhere.”
Cross, president of Cross Insurance Co., has owned the business since the early 2000s. He and his father, Woodrow Cross, moved the store in 2004 from its original downtown location into the 5,600-square-foot space, which formerly was occupied by Asian Palace near the Bangor Mall.
Royce Cross, who owns the building, said he expects to be able to lease the space quickly. He did not say what kind of business might be interested in the location. Five employees will lose their jobs when the store closes later this month, he said.
Cross blamed Lamb’s demise on the use of electronic devices to read and listen to music, but CNN reported last month that people seem to be buying physical books again.
E-book sales declined 18.7 percent in 2016 in the United States, according to the CNN report. Paperback sales increased 7.5 percent last year and sales of hardcover books went up 4.1 percent.
Surveys measuring church attendance and affiliation consistently rank Maine as one of the least religious states in the country, which Cross said did not factor into his decision to close the store.
Lamb’s is not alone among religious bookstores that have shut their doors. Family Christian Stores, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, considered to be the world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise, announced in February it would shutter 240 retail sites in 36 states after 85 years in business, according to Religion News Service.
The Michigan firm, which employed more than 3,000 people, filed for bankruptcy protection two years ago. At the time, company President Chuck Bengochea said the digital revolution was partly to blame.
Since announcing Monday on the store’s Lamb’s Book and Bible Facebook page that Lamb’s is closing and all items are being sold at 40 percent off, business at the store has picked up, Cross said.
“I’ve never seen the parking lot so full,” Lisa Cote of Old Town, who has been shopping at Lamb’s Book and Bible for at least 15 years, said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m going to miss the convenience of being able to drop by.”
Joy Alley of Jonesport drove Wednesday to Bangor to take advantage of the sale. She bought books by one of her favorite authors, Stormie Omartian, some Bible study guides and “The Battle Plan for Prayer” by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, that she wants to use to plan for the next stage of her life.
“My husband and I are strategically planning through prayer what the next 15 years will be like,” she said about her purchase of the Kendrick’s book.
A frequent shopper at the Lamb’s. Alley said the store has been “a beacon of light” for herself and others.
“It’s offered great inspiration in a world of desperation,” she said. “Its closing is really sorrowful.”