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Era came to end for Gottschalks

FRESNO, Calif. -- As liquidation sales kick into gear at Gottschalks stores across the western U.S., there's a question hanging in the air:

What went wrong?

From humble beginnings in the basement and first floor of downtown Fresno's Forsythe Building in 1904, Emil Gottschalk's single dry-good store grew into a respected regional chain with more than 60 stores in the western U.S.

What seemed like a solid legacy came apart amid what retail experts describe as a perfect storm -- high business costs, changing consumer tastes, more competition, ever-tighter credit and an economy in free fall.

The result: a bankruptcy filing in mid-January, followed by going-out-of-business sales to be wrapped up by mid-July.

Experts point not at management missteps, but at the very nature of Gottschalks' business to suggest executives likely could have done little to avoid bankruptcy and liquidation.

Read the complete story at fresnobee.com

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