October 18, 2008 in Nation/World

Mervyns latest retailer to fail

Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

A man shops for clothing at Mervyns department store Friday in Hayward, Calif.
(Full-size photo)

After 59 years in business, bankrupt Mervyns department store chain called it quits Friday – promising a huge “going out of business sale” just in time for the holidays.

And there is plenty of competition out there for a closeout Christmas. Bankrupt Linens ’n Things Inc. began a liquidation sale Friday, and Shoe Pavilion Inc. starts one this weekend, according to firms hired to liquidate the store.

Already gone are the novelty retailer Sharper Image Corp., Wickes Furniture and Levitz Furniture; and retail experts say more closings loom.

“This is unprecedented really, the number of stores that are going to be closing.” said Daniel Kane, principal of Tiger Capitol Group, one of several firms hired to liquidate Linens ’n Things and Shoe Pavilion. “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of bargains out there.”

In a environment awash with more affordable competitors such as Ross and Kohl’s, Mervyns struggled to build an identity, experts said.

First opened in 1949 in San Lorenzo, Calif., by Mervin Morris, the chain was geared toward average, working- to middle-class shoppers.

“We were targeting Joe the Plumber,” Morris, 88, said in a phone interview Friday. “We said every customer who came to JC Penney, Sears or Montgomery Ward could be a Mervyns customer. Needless to say, this is a most unpleasant day.”

Mervyns is owned by Sun Capital Partners, Inc., an investment group based in Florida that bought the retailer from Target Corp. in 2004 for $1.2 billion.

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