In 1904 Emil Gottschalk opened his first department store in Fresno California, nearly 100 years later, his grandson Joe Levy and his wife Sharon were on hand for the ribbon cutting of the fourth largest Gottschalk's store in the Pacific Northwest, their new location at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna.
"Gottschalks is a family operation and I can remember back when we had one store in downtown Fresno, and right now we have 64 stores in the western United States and 6 here in Alaska. Our Alaska stores are very successful and we are very pleased to be able to open this new store in Soldotna," said Levy.
The new Gottschalks gets its finishing touches from Merkes Contractors of Sterling a week prior to last week's grand opening.
Looking to the future for Gottschalks as they begin their second century of business, Levy said, "Emil Gottschalk had a philosophy that if you take care of the customer, the customer will come back and that is something that we continue to live by that is made up of a combination of both value, fashion and service and if we continue to maintain the proper level of all three we will maintain the growing chain that we are today." Levy added that each store has a flexibility to carry what the customers ask for in that area and that they do not use a cookie cutter approach in providing merchandise to the community.
Shoppers from all over the Kenai Pneinsula crowded into the new Gottschalks Wednesday morning following the official ribbon cutting.
The grand opening featured a buffet breakfast and was attended by numerous dignitaries including Ninilchik born Lt. Governor Loren Leman who brought greetings from the Murkowski administration and recalled when he was a boy and there was more shopping available in Ninilchik then there was in Soldotna. Soldotna Mayor David Carey read an official proclamation welcoming Gottschalks' Chairman Joe Levy and thanking all the employees and service providers for their enhancement of Soldotna's quality of life.
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