Auburn Adventist Book Center Seeks New Owner

February 05, 2015 | Heidi Baumgartner

The Adventist Book Center (ABC) based in Auburn, Wash., is moving into a new chapter of its business history as it seeks a new owner.

Its current owner, Washington Conference, regained ownership of the store on Feb. 14, 2014, after Pacific Press Publishing Association (PPPA) ceased their management of 17 bookstores across the United States in an effort to refocus the PPPA mission. Pacific Press had managed Auburn ABC for Washington Conference for eight years.

Throughout 2014, an Auburn ABC management committee researched and examined a number of management models and opportunities for the future of an ABC in western Washington. At a key transition point, the options were presented to the Washington Conference executive committee.

The executive committee reviewed the management options, financial trends and the historic connection with Washington Conference members before voting in January 2015 to place Auburn ABC on the market to be an independently operated store. If a new owner is not found, the storefront, as it is currently known, will phase out of business in the near future, and the building will be repurposed for ministry.

“We’ll do our best to find ways to still provide for the literature needs of our conference,” reassures Dennis Carlson, interim Auburn Adventist Book Center manager. “When a long-standing door closes, we believe God will open new opportunities as we continue to pray and seek God’s direction.”

This significant change is largely due to the changing purchase habits of Adventist members and the general population. No longer dependent on brick-and-mortar stores, an increasing percentage of people are buying their books online. The website has made Adventist books and materials easily accessible to all members throughout North America and beyond.

In spite of this pending change, Washington Conference members will still find many of their favorite Adventist products available at special events such as camp meeting. Niche health foods, including Loma Linda and Worthington brands owned by Atlantic Natural Foods, will soon be available in a large national grocery retailer.

The history of Adventist Book Centers traces back to the fall of 1868 when a small group of women began a prayer circle to petition God to work in the lives of their children, neighbors and friends. They formed the Vigilant Missionary Society in 1869 to share Adventist literature. This venture branched into the Tract and Missionary Society with global reach. In 1924, Book and Bible Houses offered the first Adventist literature storefronts and grew into Adventist Book Centers by 1972, with a wider range of books and soybean-based health food products. Before the recent decrease in customer demand, these centers were initially successful in meeting not only the needs of Adventist members but also many community members.

This new change does not diminish the Washington Conference commitment to the distribution of Adventist materials. “There are still opportunities for literature ministry distribution, and we are here to embrace the future,” says John Freedman, Washington Conference president. “The need to share our faith doesn’t change even if our way of managing this process adapts to meet the needs of our current marketplace. There could still be a place for a physical bookstore; we’re just not the ones to properly manage it.”

Parties interested in a bookstore business venture may email