Mitchell Family Books

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Mitchell Family Books

R.G. Mitchell Family Books was both a distributor and retailer of Christian material in Canada. Their wholesale division represented more than 40 American and British publishers in Canada. They sold their products in markets from coast to coast. Their retail division was made up of 5 stores in the Southern Ontario region. They were proud to service the Niagara Region through our St Catharines store, the Kitchener-Waterloo region through our Kitchener store and the Greater Toronto Area through their Whitby store in the east, their Etobicoke and Brampton stores in the west and through their Willowdale flagship store in the north.

Their main goal both online and in their stores was to put the right resources in the right hands at the right time so that lives are changed.

R.G. Mitchell Family Books (RGM) Closes

In a move that was expected to have a ripple effect on the Canadian Christian product industry, the largest Christian distributor in Canada filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, shutting down its retail and wholesale divisions.

Ontario-based R.G. Mitchell Family Books (RGM), which began operations in 1934 and had several bookstores in the region, unexpectedly closed Monday. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

R.G. Mitchell's closure has caused some U.S. publishers to scramble to find other sources of distribution in Canada. For the last three years, RGM has distributed books and magazines published by Strang Communications, including Christian Retailing.

Rebeccah Barker, international sales manager, said Strang has been in contact with Word Alive Distributors this week, and the Lake Mary, Fla.-based company was exploring signing with the distributor. Word Alive distributed Strang products for many years prior to the company signing with R.G. Mitchell in 2005.

"This is a major dent in the Canadian distribution of Christian resources," Mark Hutchinson—co-owner of Blessings Christian Marketplace, a chain of four stores based in Chilliwack, British Columbia—told Christian Retailing. "We are working extremely hard to source the products (that RGM) carried through U.S. distributors and publishers. We are not sure what this will mean in the (short) term.

"I expect that other Canadian distributors will work to pick up the RGM lines," Hutchinson added. "We are very sorry that RGM has had to close their doors. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mitchell family and their team."

RGM had been downsizing recently, closing its Ontario locations in Oshawa and Etobicoke as well as selling its store in St. Catharines. The chain had seven stores remaining in Ontario, located in Willowdale, Kitchener, Pickering, Whitby, Kingston, Brampton and Hamilton before bankruptcy proceedings, Rob Bennett, R.G. Mitchell's retail marketing manager, told Christian Retailing. RGM took over the stores in Hamilton and Brampton from the Blessings chain.

In a recent open letter to RGM's customers, President David Freeland urged them to buy from the stores and Web site of the 74-year-old distributor and chain.


History of R.G. Mitchell Family Books Inc.

It was on January 1, 1934 that Mr. R. Gordon Mitchell and Mr. Ernie Tatham purchased Home Evangel Book Shop, then a small retail store located at 418 Church Street in downtown Toronto. It was agreed that Mr. Mitchell would work full-time in the store, while Mr. Tatham would travel across Canada once a year selling their wholesale lines to other Christian bookstores. At the end of 5 years of limited growth, Mr. Tatham sold his portion of the business to Mr. Mitchell. For the next 20 years Mr. Mitchell traveled across Canada each year in an 8-week non-stop trip.

Home Evangel Book Shop in 1934,
418 Church Street, Toronto
In 1979, Home Evangel became R.G. Mitchell Family Books Inc.

In order to save on shipping time, Mr. Mitchell made arrangements to stock his wholesale lines and offer direct supply to the Canadian Christian booksellers. By 1954, Mr. Mitchell decided to concentrate on the wholesale side of the business, and Home Evangel’s retail sales increased 25% as a result of the larger and improved facilities. It was also in this period that Mr. Mitchell was involved with the fledgling Christian Booksellers Association in the United States. He was a member of the executive committee for seven years and served as president for two years.

In 1958, Mr. Mitchell hired the first salesman to do the majority of the traveling that he had been doing for over 20 years. In 1961, property was purchased and a 12,000 square foot building was built, shortly thereafter, it was necessary to expand the building another 5,500 square feet. In June of 1973 to construct a new 31,000 square foot building at 565 Gordon Baker Road in Willowdale, ON. This building, with a 7,000 square foot addition, completed in 1984 to house a retail store, and also remains the current site of wholesale operation.

By the time of the move to Gordon Baker Road, Peter Mitchell and Keith Cheshire, Gordon Mitchell's son, and son-in-law had become heavily involved in the business. Now that the business had become a family affair it was decided to change the business' name from Home Evangel to Mitchell Family Books Inc. And so, in 1979, Home Evangel became R.G. Mitchell Family Books Inc.


The first R.G. Mitchell Family Books retail store was opened in October of 1984 at the present facility on Gordon Baker Road. R.G. Mitchell Family Books purchased Bethel Bookstore in Kitchener, Ontario from Bethel Publishing House of Indiana in 1986. In December of 1988, R.G Mitchell Family Books purchased the Bible Book Nook in St. Catharines from the American Brethren-in-Christ denomination. Both stores were renamed R.G. Mitchell Family Books. In the Fall of 1995, Mitchell's Warehouse Outlet was launched to sell remainder and overstock inventory. In 2005, the retail division was renamed Mitchell Family Books to distinguish the retail entity from the wholesale entity known as R.G. Mitchell Family Books. In February 2006 the Whitby location of New Vision Bookstore was acquired from Larry & Lana Leeder, and in April 2006, Tiny’s Christian Bookstore in Oshawa was purchased from Beatrice Richmond, both renamed Mitchell Family Bookstores.