Gottschalks at death’s door

Chain has until March 30 to find a buyer or will get liquidated

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

Gottschalks, the 104-year-old chain of department stores, has until the end of March to find a buyer or it will be forced to liquidate. That means its store anchoring the Chico Mall, which reportedly has done fairly well even during the economic downturn, will close along with 58 others.

The Fresno-based company with 5,900 employees filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 14, and on March 7 it designated a team of liquidating firms as the lead bidder in a court-supervised auction set for March 30. Gottschalks has been seeking a buyer, but in this terrible business climate, and with the pinch on credit, none has been forthcoming.

Jolene Francis, executive director of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, said she thought the Chico store was doing better than the rest of the company. “It’s been a good sales-tax generator,” she said. If Gottschalks does close, she said she hoped some other Chico stores could pick up some of the “unique lines” of products the store carried