Family names. Gimbels. Hutzler's. Lansburgh's. Each of these retailing giants took the name of its founding family.

Each is gone. Some shoppers wouldn't even know what Gimbels was unless they watched the classic "Miracle on 34th Street" each Christmas to view the fight between Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel.

Garfinckel's, the Washington retailer that filed for bankruptcy in June, may join the graveyard of family retailing names. Or, it may survive -- sold to the highest bidder.

An attorney for Garfinckel's said yesterday that the retailer had received "one honest-to-God" inquiry from a Washington specialty retailer interested in purchasing the name.

"There's no inherent value to the name," said Stephen E. Leach, Garfinckel's attorney in the bankruptcy process. Still, he said, "It's an old, venerable name. We thought in light of the inquiry, we ought to go fish."

Leach declined to identify the interested party or to say who else he thought might bid.

The possible sale of the Garfinckel's name casts doubt on the plan of George P. Kelly, the stores' president, to keep alive a couple of boutiques in Washington under the Garfinckel's name. Kelly could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, Leach was unaware of efforts by Kelly or anyone else to spin off a smaller entity under the well-known moniker, Leach said.

Creditors of the bankrupt retailer have been pushing Garfinckel's representatives to sell anything of value -- including the name and the store's leases -- as quickly as possible. But there is little hope that creditors whose bills are not backed by some collateral will receive any money.

The Garfinckel's leases, probably the most valuable of its assets, are being considered by a number of possible buyers. But Leach said those funds will go to First City, Texas-Houston, the lender to Garfinckel's that has a security interest in the leases.

About $7 million of uncollected Garfinckel's receivables -- unpaid credit card balances and other money owed to the stores -- will be sold to Schottenstein Stores Corp., a national liquidation firm, for $5 million, according to Leach. The bankruptcy court must approve the transaction.

As for the Garfinckel's name, its value may be negligible, according to retailers and analysts.

"I think at this point, the value {of the name} is minimal," said David Pensky, president of retailer Britches of Georgetown. "Not too many buyers would be interested in a name with such a poor recent history."

The value of a name "depends entirely on its renown and reputation," said Kurt Barnard, president of Retail Marketing Report. "If the renown was such that it had to file for bankruptcy, it can't be worth much."