A former chairman of Gottschalks Inc. wants to resurrect the venerable retail name with a new chain of department stores.
Joe Levy, whose great-aunt was the wife of Gottschalks founder Emil Gottschalk, said Monday that he has formed a new company — called Gottschalk by Joe Levy Inc. — with plans to open stores in Central California and beyond.
The original Gottschalks started with one store in downtown Fresno in 1904 and eventually expanded to dozens throughout the western United States — many in smaller cities often passed over by national retailers. But a sour economy, declining sales and rising debt forced the chain to file for bankruptcy protection in January 2009. The last of its 58 stores closed last summer.
With the Valley economy shaken by high unemployment and deflated home prices, retail experts aren't sure that Levy's new company will fare any better than its predecessor. And while Levy says he has financing lined up, it's unclear whether those resources are enough for so expensive an undertaking.
Levy, 78, declined to reveal Monday how many stores he's planning, where they would open or when — though some of those details may be announced at a news conference today. But he expressed confidence that customers would return to the familiar Gottschalk name.
Read more of this story at FresnoBee.com