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You can't beat the big creditors to the bones of a bankrupt client, so what do you do?

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This story appears in the February 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Before September 11, Le Gourmet Gift Basket Inc. was growing at a healthy clip. But in the months that followed the attacks, with steep drops in the stock market and mounting layoffs, many of its would-be customers began welshing on their contracts and bouncing checks. Five of them went bankrupt in a 10-month period. "I've never seen anything like it," says Cynthia McKay, 47, president and CEO of the Denver-based franchise.

McKay stood in line with the other creditors but was mostly unsuccessful in her efforts to recoup her investments. Although there might be some indication of a problem beforehand, she says, often "you don't know 'til you get that little postcard [from bankruptcy court]."

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