They cut costs. Dumped millions of their own money into the nation's largest family-owned department store chain. Refinanced debt and promised vendors they'd make good on late payments. They even courted private-equity investors.
"Will it be enough?" they asked themselves time and again.
By Friday night, it had become clear: Bankruptcy was inevitable. "There was no going back," Lakin said.
The Reading company, whose stubbornly old-style stores anchor many of the region's malls and which proudly flaunts customer service with a smile (homemade fudge, too), filed yesterday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.