Business

Mall losing a big one

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

The axe that missed the Gottschalk’s store in Federal Way early this year got it the second time around.

The California-based retailer announced last week the “underperforming” store will close July 11, ending three years at the SeaTac Mall location and taking away one of the mall’s major tenants.

A Gottschalks spokesman at corporate headquarters in Fresno, Calif. said the decision resulted from “an ongoing discussion” and was linked to the closure of six other stores in Washington in February.

The Federal Way store opened in the former site of Lamonts. Gottschalks bought 34 Lamonts stores in 2000 following the latter’s bankruptcy. As sales have slipped, at least 15 of the former Lamonts stores have been closed in the past two years. The Federal Way outlet is the latest.

The Gottschalks spokesman, who wouldn’t give his name, said the Federal Way store will close because it has been “underperforming by our guidelines and standards.”

He said there is no connection between Gottschalks’ withdrawal from the mall and the mall’s sale in February to Steadfast Commercial Properties, a Newport Beach, Calif. real estate development and management firm. He also said there are no disagreements with mall officials over the store’s lease or other arrangements.

“It doesn’t matter to us who owns the mall. This is a totally separate business decision,” the spokesman said.

Mall officials couldn’t be reached for comment. No annnouncement was made on possible tenants to replace Gottschalks.

Steadfast is planning the first major renovation of the mall since it opened in 1975. Along with cosmetic changes, officials have said they’re seeking new tenants.

Besides Gottschalks, current major tenants include Bon Marche, Sears and Mervyn’s.

The parking lot that directly serves shoppers at Gottschalks on the mall’s south side is expected to be closed for at least another week while a major regional water pipeline is laid beneath the pavement. The store’s manager said last week, before the closure plans were revealed, that the store would conduct “business as usual.”

The first public indication that the store would close were signs placed at its entrances. The corporate spokesman confirmed the closure plans and said “some opportunities” existed for employees to transfer to other stores.

Gottschalks, founded in 1904 by German immigrant Emil Gottschalk, has 65 department stores and 13 specialty stores in six western states –– California, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. Their merchandise includes clothing, jewelry and home items.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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