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Gottschalks bankrupt; will it close?

By January 17, 2009

Enterprise columnist

You could feel the shock waves Wednesday when Gottschalks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Its 59 stores Ñ 38 in California Ñ are at risk of closure. In Yolo County, the chain has stores in University Mall in Davis and County Fair Mall in Woodland.

The loss of sales tax income is a big concern for Davis officials. Thedepartment store is one of the cityÕs top 25 generators of sales tax revenue, Gail Buller, the cityÕs financial services manager, told The Enterprise. A closure of the Davis storealso would be a huge hit in advertising income for this newspaper.

The Fresno-based department store chain has assets of $288.4 million and debts of $197.1 million,according to the bankruptcy petition filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Gottschalks has negotiated $125 million in financing from lenders led by GE Capital, the company said in a statement. The financing, if approved in bankruptcy court, will fundemployeesÕ wages and benefits, some vendor payments and other operating expenses while the company reorganizes, according to The Associated Press. The agreement relies on a sale to be completed by March 24.

ÒPersistent challenges in the economy and recent unexpected reductions to our borrowing capacity as a result of tightening credit markets have left us with no other recourse,Ó Chairman and CEO Jim Famalette said in a statement.

In town, one scenario that hasnÕt been discussed openly is whether Trader JoeÕs would be interested in taking over the Gottschalks site if the department store closes. TJÕs has been waiting for a stand-alone spot at University Mall for some time, but maybe this would do.


David Robert plans to reopen Davis Creamery by the end of this month Ñ with some amendments. The ice cream shop, at 2191 Cowell Blvd. in the Oakshade Town Center, has been closed since Nov. 16. He could be found last week installing new laminate flooring and making other interior design changes to make a homier feel.

He hopes to capitalize on thepopularity of cupcakes, and has formed a partnership with the Sacramento bakery Cupcake Craving to sell its treats. Meanwhile, he is simplifying the menu, which will focus on homemade ice cream with local and unusual flavors. Fresh-baked cookies will be served, but no more soft-serve frozen yogurt or sorbet. The selection of toppings or Òmix-insÓ is being pared down from the storeÕs former life as a Marble Slab Creamery.

Robert has been the leaseholder of the store since its Marble Slab days. When it reopened as Davis Creamery, he was in partnership with three other men, who all bowed out when the store closed in November.


Ruby Tuesday will close 40 restaurants early this year, plus another 30 locations over the next few years, due to declining sales, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The restaurant company is based in Maryville, Tenn. The Ruby Tuesday at 164 Main St. in Woodland is owned by a franchisee, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

The Jan. 9 article in The Wall Street Journal said the restaurant chain faces its bleakest outlook in its 37-year history. It invested heavily in 2007, making its menu and restaurants more contemporary, without much payoff.

A Dec. 20 story in The (Birmingham, Ala.) Press-Register quoted Steve Rockwell, the company’s vice president of finance, saying the chain has closed eateries before anddoesnÕt pre-announce which ones.


The worsening economy has forced the owners of the small family amusement park behind the Nut Tree Villages in Vacaville to lock the gates indefinitely.

A news release from a public relations firm representing Nut TreeAssociates, the parkÕs owners,announced the closure Tuesday,according to a McNaughton Newspapers report.

Nut Tree Family Park, with the small train saved from the original Nut Tree, was designed to be a family-friendly centerpiece to attract people to nearby restaurants and stores.

Even in good times, the park struggled. Nut Tree hired a consultant, Amusement Aquatic Management Group, in early 2008 to help manage and improve the park.

Despite marketing efforts thatincluded signs along Interstate 80, things didnÕt improve.

ÒThis decision was very difficult, but based on current economic conditions of the country and in theregion, it was the prudent thing to do,Ó consultant Vice President David Simon said in a statement.

The developer also had been wrestling with the Vacaville City Council over a proposal to bring in nonretail businesses such as learning centers, banks and medical offices.

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said he hopes something can be worked out so it can reopen in thefuture. He is particularly concerned about the fate of the parkÕs train and carousel.


A spokeswoman for Tuesday Morning said the Davis storeÕs temporary closure was nothing to worry about. The merchant, in the El Macero Shopping Center, was closed for inventory accounting and reopened Thursday.

ÒThe store was closed only forinventory/re-stocking as we do in early January each year,Ó said Laurey Peat, whose public relations firm represents the discount chain.


he Open Bible wonÕt be open for much longer. The store, at 638 G St., near the Davis Food Co-op, sells Bibles, books, cards, gift items, music and videos. It will close at the end of February, said Ken Bradford, who owns the store with his wife, Pat.

Cecil Abrahams first opened The Open Bible in 1976. It has been in various locations downtown. The Bradfords purchased it in December 2003, reopening it next to their other store, KenÕs Bike and Ski.

Ken Bradford said Òit was something we believed in.Ó But he pointed out Òthe times are changing, and the way people buy (books and) music is changing.Ó

A going-out-of-business sale began Thursday, with prizes for customers who bring a friend. ÒThereÕs a lot left, and itÕs all on sale,Ó he said.


After about three decades, the womenÕs natural fiber clothing store SamiraÕs will close sometime in February. The store, at 623 Second St., is selling inventory at 30 percent off.

Grazia and Michael Jaroff own the store, which they purchased from Pat and Larry Baker in 2000, shortlyafter the Bakers moved it to its present site. It was at 222 D St. for about 20 years.

Michael Jaroff said Thursday that they have spoken to two prospective buyers. But sale or no sale, they will liquidate inventory and retire next month.

ÒItÕs been fun and weÕve enjoyed it,Ó he said. ÒItÕs not just the economy, weÕve got other things going on in our lives.Ó


The Comings & Goings blog now has RSS feed! Although this column runs in the paper once or twice a month, the blog is updated as news develops. For a free subscription to the blog, go to http://www.davisenterprise.net/comings_and_goings and click on ÒSubscribe via RSSÓ at the top right corner of the screen.

IÕve also added lots of new categories, which allow you to search for items that have been posted since the blog began in October. Columns written before October are available to print subscribers through The Enterprise Web site.

Ñ Wendy Weitzel is a Davis resident. Her column runs occasionally on Sundays, but her Comings &Goings blog at www.davisenterprise.com is frequently updated. If you know about a business coming orgoing in the area, contact her at [email protected]

Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel is a longtime journalist and Davis resident. She is a former managing editor of The Davis Enterprise, working there from 1998-2008. She has written her Comings & Goings business column since 2001. Today, she does freelance writing, editing, marketing and design.
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