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Mark Shale Files Chapter 11 Petition

The fashion chain has filed for bankruptcy court protection three times since 1995.

Chicago-based fashion retailer Mark Shale has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection again, hoping that the third time’s the charm as it seeks a new owner.

The filing in a Chicago bankruptcy court Tuesday was the third time the high-end fashion retailer filed for the so-called “Chapter 33.” Its previous filing was in March 2009. At that time, the eight-unit retailer shuttered five stores. The company kept its flagship on Michigan Avenue as well as stores in Oak Brook, Ill., and Northbrook, Ill. Mark Shale was acquired during its bankruptcy and received $2 million in exit financing from private equity firm JOB Investments. The company first filed for bankruptcy in November 1995, and closed five of its then 13 stores.

Rich Myers, president of Mark Shale, said, “Unfortunately, in the current economic environment and despite our significant efforts over the past few years, we have concluded that a Chapter 11 filing was the company’s best alternative. We continue to seek a strategic partner to fortify the business.”

A little less than half of the business is in women’s wear. The women’s wear component is said to have dragged down overall operations. The men’s business, where the chain has its roots, is said to be doing well, according to a market source.

While all three stores will stay open during the current tour of bankruptcy proceedings, it wasn’t clear who might step up to the plate to acquire the firm. Bankruptcy court documents that typically indicate assets and liabilities, as well as who are the company’s top creditors, weren’t immediately available.

The chain was founded by Shale Baskin, who died Jan. 10 at the age of 84 after a short battle with leukemia. Baskin’s family has an interesting history in retail. His grandfather was a merchant and opened a men’s store called Harry Baskin in Streator, Ill. His father opened his own men’s store, Al Baskin, in 1929 in Joliet, Ill., the same time The Al Baskin Co. was founded. The name was changed to Mark Shale in 1971. Shale’s uncle, Burton Baskin, and his brother-in-law, Irv Robbins, were the founders of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain.