The Future Of Gottschalks Hangs

March 29, 2009 6:33:15 PM PDT
The fate of the Fresno-based Gottschalks retail company will be decided Monday.After major million-dollar financial losses over the last two years the company's livelihood will be on the auction block.

One foothill community hopes the store stays open.

When residents in Oakhurst are looking for clothing most said they shop at the nearby Gottschalks for quality and good deals.

"As far as getting larger quantities with better prices, this is our best place," said Cheryl Doty.

"There's no competition. This is the only department store in town," said Charlotte Maguire.

But this department store could close.

A sluggish economy has dramatically reduced all 58 West Coast store's profits forcing the business into bankruptcy court.

Gottschalks owners will watch Monday as two liquidating firms and one Chinese government run company bid on its future.

The Chinese commercial group Shandong could keep the store alive.

Oakhurst bookstore owner Monica McClanahan worried if Gottschalks closed her bookstore would be in jeopardy. "That will be a huge blow. It really will to the whole community and to all of Eastern Madera county," she said.

Next door sporting goods owner Greg Miller predicted the local economic landscape would shift negatively. "Of course it's scary. This is my livelihood right here," he said.

Many of the shoppers we spoke to said they would be forced to travel to Fresno which is tough on already tight budgets.

"That's an hour each way, the gas money, plus you kill the whole day," exclaimed Charlotte Maguire.

Bass Lake resident Elva Todd has a different perspective.

She fears a communist operated business group is not what this 105-year old American business needs. "I just think we've let China get a hold of this country too much. I don't like it at all," she said.

Gottschalks fate will not be known until Wednesday. That's when a judge will approve the bid placed at Monday's auction.

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