Anchor Blue going out of business

Workers at the Anchor Blue store in the Glendale Galleria were busy Friday advertising 30%, 40% and 50% discounts on racks full of jeans, jackets and belts. A sign hanging in the center of the store encouraged customers to ask about acquiring fixtures and furniture.

It is the end of the line for Corona-based Anchor Blue, which has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close all 117 of its stores after selling off its inventory at steep discounts. The closure comes even as the retail market is enjoying a rebound.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that retail sales grew by 6.6% in 2010, with an especially strong December. Much of that strength was in auto sales, which grew by 10% in 2010, and websites and catalogs, as the "nonstore sales" category grew by 13.5%. Clothing and accessory stores gained by 5%, according to the report.

But Nancy Sidhu, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said not everyone is coming along for the ride.

"Retail is doing pretty well, but it is spotty," Sidhu said. "There may still be sectors and individual chains hanging on by their teeth."

Sidhu said Anchor Blue fits the pattern. Other denim retailers, such as the Gap, have a stronger market presence. Anchor Blue's financial problems trace at least to 2009, when it first filed for bankruptcy.

The Galleria is losing another retailer later this month, though one going the opposite direction from Anchor Blue. Makeup and fragrance retailer Sephora, which added 23 stores in 2010 and now operates in 270 locations, is moving across Central Avenue to the Americana at Brand.

The store's Jan. 28 launch will feature an appearance by model Josie Maran, who recently started her own cosmetics line and whose makeup artists will be present to assist customers.

Jennifer Gordon, vice president of public relations for the Americana, said Sephora complements the clothing and accessories shops in the center. Many makeup retailers sell only their own line of products, while Sephora will offer products from 200 manufacturers in its 5,800-square-foot store.

"It is a great addition to the retail mix at the Americana," Gordon said. "Adding a makeup and fragrance specialty store kind of rounds things off."

Glendale Galleria senior marketing director Shoshana Puccia noted that Sephora will maintain a presence in the massive indoor shopping center.

"In my opinion they are just expanding, because we still have Sephora inside the JCPenney store," Puccia said.

Occupancy is at 95% or above at the Galleria, and proposals are already in the works for the now-vacant Sephora space, she added.

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