"Forever 21" Seeks to Expand In Valley

May 22, 2009 5:53:55 PM PDT
Some retail jobs will be available should "Forever 21" wins its bid to take over 15 Gottschalks stores."Forever 21" is eyeing stores at Fashion Fair, the Hanford Mall and the Visalia Mall.

Loyal "Forever 21" shoppers at Fashion Fair figure an expansion into the Gottschalks building makes perfect sense. Morgan Sedra of Fresno said, "Like this store is kind of crammed so if they expand they'll have room and have more things and they'll make more money."

Such a move would end speculation Macy's would combine its men's and furniture stores at the Gottschalks location. "Forever 21" Executive Vice-President Larry Meyer said "We'll move into the old Gottschalks building. We'll probably open mid-to-late summer."

Executives with the Macerich Company, which owns Fashion Fair, say "Forever 21" has been bucking the trend. Executive Vice-President Randy Brant said "Over the past 4-5 months when most of the retail world has experienced decreasing same store sales, Forever 21 has experienced dramatically increasing same store sales."

"Forever 21" caters to teens and young women but is now beginning to sell men's clothes. The company has taken over 15 Mervyn's stores as it seeks a big-box presence. Larry Meyer said "Our desire is to make more people happy by expanding our merchandise range."

If Forever 21 moves into the Gottschalks site, it would become one of the largest stores in the company chain. "Forever 21" has signed a purchase agreement with Gottschalks to take over 15 stores. But the deal must still be approved at a bankruptcy auction next Thursday.

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