Gottschalks gradually selling inventory to ready for store closure

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn Gottschalks likely will close July 15. The department store chain announced in a press release in early spring that inventory liquidation was expected to conclude on that date. At the store Wednesday, employees refused to confirm a closing date, but did say that they did not expect the store to close before the July 15 deadline. Liquidators purchased the Gottschalks inventory in late March as part of bankruptcy proceedings. Liquidation began in early April. Since then, large signs in the windows of the Auburn Town Center store have advertised steadily increasing price reductions. Prices are now being shown as 60 to 80 percent off. The city of Auburn is monitoring the progress of interest in the soon-to-be empty building. “Our initial notification is that they would be closing in July,” City Manager Bob Richardson said Wednesday. “The city has had several meetings with interested parties for that building. … The ultimate decision as to who moves in will be entirely up to the owner of the property.” Clothing retailer Forever 21 purchased three of the Gottschalks chain’s sites and the rights to seven unexpired leases, following a bankruptcy court hearing June 10 in Delaware. Macy’s purchased two other leases — at Fresno’s River Park center and the Visalia Mall, according to the Fresno Bee. Purchasers have not been identified for the remaining stores, according to the Fresno Bee. That includes the Auburn site. The retailer’s closure means the loss of approximately 92 jobs in Auburn. The Fresno-based department store’s 58 locations had about 5,200 employees.