LOS ANGELES -- A local mall and a second Bullock's unit here were condemned Thursday, more victims of Monday's devastating earthquake.
The Bullock's store in Sherman Oaks and the Northridge Fashion Center, both near the epicenter in Northridge, suffered severe structural damage.
The Bullock's store in Northridge Fashion Center, which collapsed during the quake, had been condemned earlier in the week.
The condemnation decree by city officials in the Northridge Fashion Center was expected because of the extensive destruction, including the collapsed Bullock's and parking structure.
Other major stores in the Northridge Fashion Center include The Broadway, Robinsons-May, Sears and J.C. Penney. The Broadway has said it will replace its store, but due to California's difficult economy, some sources question whether the mall owners will rebuild. They could not be reached Thursday.
Many other L.A. retailers were waiting for inspectors to decide if they could enter their stores. City officials have said it will take weeks to inspect all structures.
Ron Ross, an upscale specialty store in Studio City suffered considerable damage and has "condemned" stickers on the exterior.
However, Ross, the owner, said Thursday afternoon that officials put up the stickers to keep people from entering the store until it is inspected.
Though he expects the unit to remain closed for two to four weeks, an answering machine recording has been asking resources to continue shipping to the store. Ross said the store's interior will be cleaned up, and he hopes to be open for business in two to four weeks.
Meanwhile, aftershocks are leaving the other area retailers with an uncertain fate.
Seven units of The Broadway were expected to remain closed through the weekend. The Panorama City unit has taken several hits from aftershocks and many not open for months. The chain has already begun to clean up its Sherman Oaks and Topanga stores.
David L. Dworkin, president and chief executive officer of CHH, sent a letter to all employees Thursday, saying they would be paid regularly during the next 30 days, whether they can work or not. The store is providing household and personal goods to employees at cost for the next 90 days. It has also set up an employee credit help line.Most major Westside malls were expected to remain closed today. Beverly Center has reportedly sustained severe damage to its first five floors, which are used for parking.
Jane Whaley, director of investor relations for Anaheim-based Clothestime, said business in all 150 of its Southern California stores will be affected in some way by curfews, early closings and people just having a hard time getting around the city on crippled streets.
Twenty-five Clothestime units were affected, either by power outages, fallen ceiling tiles, broken windows, or structural damage.
Of the four stores with significant structural damage, all near the Northridge epicenter, the Reseda unit was OK'd by engineers, according to Whaley. The Conoga Park unit lost most of its merchandise when the sprinkler system turned on and soaked the interior.
"January is a big month for clearance sales, so it isn't like we're losing business on new spring merchandise," Whaley said.
American Rag on La Brea Avenue said sales of spring merchandise will be affected. After having one of its distribution centers destroyed in the San Fernando Valley, the store has received no spring merchandise, according Ron Goldstein, general manager.
"Our winter sale was supposed to end Thursday, but we'll continue it through the weekend or until we get new merchandise in," he said.
American Rag has been open since Tuesday, and Goldstein described business since then as average.
"We don't know really what's going on yet," he said. "We can't predict anything. If people are out, they're more likely looking for food and water, not clothes. But it's hard to tell. We are just trying to pick up and keep going. There's always the possibility, with many mall and department stores closed, we may get a lot of their business for a while."
While stores tried to become operational, some apparel manufacturers were trying to help their employees. At Jonathan Martin, all workers who would normally work this weekend will be off. "We want our employees to get their lives together," said Barbara Dalton, national merchandise manager.
At Rex Lester, a contemporary resource, employees are leaving early every day. Mitzi Bouras, assistant designer, said the early dismissal is intended to help employees cope with massive traffic problems caused by closed freeways and streets."I live in Palmdale, and I left for work at 10 a.m. to avoid the morning crunch," she said. "It still took me three hours. I will be staying in L.A. and only going home on the weekends. I can't take the traffic."
The firm is hurrying to finish samples in time for the February Coterie show. Many of their sample makers have had their Valley workrooms trashed.
Linda LoRe, president and ceo of Giorgio Beverly Hills, which has built an empire in part by promoting the idealized Southern California lifestyle of sun and surf said, "We really can't run around like Pollyannas anymore."
--With contributions from KIM-VAN DANG and LIZ LIPPINCOTT
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