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Calif. power woes dim Gottschalks

Department store chain cuts energy use, store hours in Juneau

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2001

The energy crisis that has dimmed lights in California has cast its shadow on a Juneau department store.

Gottschalks in the Nugget Mall will close a half hour early weekdays under a new corporate policy to conserve energy. Store staff also is under orders to turn off unneeded lights, including Gottschalks signs after hours.

The directive came Wednesday from corporate headquarters in Fresno, Calif., and applies to all 79 Gottschalks stores, even those in states that don't have an energy problem, said spokesman Fred Bentelspacher.

"We're one company," Bentelspacher said. "We have one price for our merchandise no matter what state we're in ... and at this point we have one energy conservation policy, and it applies to all the stores."

That means the Juneau retailer will close at 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday instead of 9 p.m., said store manager Debbie Oleman.

However, Oleman said the early closure likely won't make a big dent in sales because business generally is slower at night this time of year anyway, and customers still in the store at closing time will be allowed to finish shopping.

"If we have customers in the store, we're not going to boot them out ... If they're there, we're going to help them," Oleman said.

She said the store will turn off its outside Gottschalks sign after hours, but the directive to extinguish unneeded inside lights won't affect the Juneau retailer because staff already does that.

"We've always been conscious of lighting we're not using," Oleman said. "We always turn it off."

Stores will resume regular hours when the energy crisis is over. Gottschalks Inc. owns seven stores in Alaska and 72 in six other states.

Kathy Dye can be reached at kdye@juneauempire.com.



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