Delay in restoring Gottschalk name to the Valley retail landscape

FRESNO, Calif.

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Gottschalk Chairman Joe Levy said the first store will open before Easter. Five months after the bold business plan was first announced, the new company was still seeking financial backing.

Once profitable Gottschalks' locations at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis and Oakhurst remain vacant but these two stores would be among the first to re-open.

Joe Levy admitted he had no idea what it would take to get the new company going. Software and merchandise issues grew complicated. The recession has made it difficult to raise capital but Levy expects to have investors on board within a month. He said, "They felt it was too early and too fast to accomplish what we were trying to do and I think this breather giving us these extra few months will be very beneficial both to getting the financing and getting these stores open for our customers."

Company reserves may be empty but CEO Bob Wiser was full of confidence. Wiser said, "Joe's gonna cringe but this is shooting fish in a barrel. This is a no-brainer. If I can't do this after 40 years something is seriously wrong with me."

Some long-time employees of the former Gottschalks have volunteered their time to get the company going.

Chief Financial Officer Bob Lawson said, "When we're successful with our entire plan we are looking at re-opening 16 stores."

For now the plan was to get four stores off the ground, two in the valley along with stores in Auburn and Carson City.

CEO Bob Wiser said the company is in serious talks with three different investment groups. He expected to have a done deal within a few weeks.

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