An attorney for Garfinckel's said yesterday that the company's going-out-of-business sale that starts today will be precisely that, with little expectation that the retailer will reemerge from the bankruptcy process as a going concern.

"In this case, Chapter 11 {the bankruptcy proceeding} is being used to permit an orderly wind down of the company's operations," said Stephen E. Leach, the attorney representing Garfinckel's. "One should not focus on this as a reorganization."

Attorneys for some of Garfinckel's creditors said yesterday that the company's decision last week to attempt a financial reorganization under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy laws was a ruse, concealing what will be, in effect, a liquidation of the retailer. Unlike a liquidation, in which a trustee would oversee the sale of the company's assets, the Chapter 11 option is designed to permit Garfinckel's management to remain in charge while the company tries to work out its obligations to debtors.

The attorneys -- representing creditors whose claims are not backed by collateral or other security -- met yesterday with the federal bankruptcy trustee handling the Garfinckel's case to form a committee to monitor the proceedings. Some voiced resentment because they were given little notification of the bankruptcy filing.

Their mood was not helped by Leach's statement that there is virtually no possibility that unsecured creditors will receive any payment.

"The general unsecured creditors fall into a sort of soup kettle," said Leach. "I do not think the creditors should look to any recovery. ... It's just not there."

Leach said that prior to its filing for bankruptcy last week, Garfinckel's was "hemorrhaging cash" at the rate of $2.5 million a month.

Thomas D. Kohn, an attorney who represents Hartz & Co., one of the company's unsecured creditors, said that the quickness of the Garfinckel's filing had not allowed creditors time to voice their objections to certain actions by the company, such as setting up a liquidation sale.

"They had made their deals and sold their assets subject to court approval before they ever filed" with the court, Kohn said.

Christopher Beard, publisher of the newsletter Turnarounds and Workouts, which focuses on troubled companies, said yesterday that the real problem was that Garfinckel's management had not shut down sooner. "These guys waited much too long," he said.

Shottenstein Stores Corp., a national liquidation firm, has agreed to buy Garfinckel's goods for about $9 million and resell them to the public. That money will go to Garfinckel's secured creditors.

The retailer has two major secured creditors. First City Bank of Houston is owed $28 million, according to Leach, although a bank spokesman said another institution has taken over part of that obligation. A second lender, Washington Square Park Finance Co. is owed more than $40 million, but it is unclear how much of that amount is secured and how much unsecured. An attorney for Washington Square said yesterday that the secured loan could be between $10 million and $25 million.

First City and Washington Square have close ties to Garfinckel's principal owner -- Middle Eastern financier Wafic Said. Said is a close friend of A. Robert Abboud, who heads First City and owns about 5 percent of First City's stock. In turn, Abboud's bank has been the major lender to Garfinckel's.

Washington Square was created to be the investor and lender for Strategic Investment and Finance Corp., or Sifcorp, Said's Luxembourg-based vehicle for U.S. investments. One source knowledgeable about Said's Washington Square operations said he expected that Sifcorp probably will lose its entire investment in Garfinckel's. A spokesman for Sifcorp declined to comment.

Attorneys for several of Garfinckel's creditors objected yesterday when an attorney for Washington Square attempted to be appointed to the committee being formed by unsecured creditors.

"The purpose of the committee is to determine what happens to the assets," said Michael J. Lichtenstein, an attorney for Lanham Property Investors, one of Garfinckel's landlords. "They're an insider. I wouldn't want an insider on the committee."

However, Michael Baxter, an attorney for Washington Square, said it would be inappropriate for Washington Square not to be represented on the committee. "They're the largest unsecured creditor," he said.