The Gottschalks department store chain began as a single dry goods store in Fresno, California, in 1904. It initiated expansion in 1961, until by the early 2000s it had almost 60 department stores in six western states. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 and liquidated soon after.
Ten years after founding Gottschalks, Emil Gottschalk moved the store into a downtown building that was 10 times larger. In 1961, the company became a chain with the opening of branch stores in Merced, Visalia and Fresno. Gottschalks grew by expanding into smaller cities where its branches were the exclusive large department stores. The company had nine stores by 1985 and 18 by 1988. In its growth, it acquired other department store chains such as Malcolm Brock, Samuel Leask & Sons, Harris Department Stores and Lamonts.
Gottschalks department stores began trading stock in 1986, but by 2008, the New York Stock Exchange delisted it because the stock had dropped so much in value. Although for a time Gottschalks was in talks with a Chinese company, Everbright Development Overseas Limited, for a loan, the negotiations eventually fell through. The company filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 14, 2009, and by the end of March 2009, it finalized the liquidation agreement. The last of its stores closed in July 2009.