By Tamera Adams

"Redeem those gift cards now" must be the most popular headline of the day. I've heard it on every TV channel, on every news program and read it on the Web.

Sharper Image's bankruptcy filing and subsequent refusal to honor gift cards is the reason for the sense of urgency. Consumers now fear that other gift cards they've purchased or received will soon become unredeemable as the economy continues to spiral downward and more retailers report financial hardships.

Competitors are willing to give discounts to shafted gift card holders, but sometimes the "something is better than nothing" option just doesn't offer much solace.

Luckily, consumers with gift cards from jewelry and home furnishing chain Fortunoff were not faced with the same disappointment because the bankrupt company was purchased by NRDC Equity Partners LLC, which owns Lord & Taylor department stores, according to an article from The Associated Press.

The article further explains that the bankruptcy court probably wouldn't allow a bankrupt retailer to honor gift cards unless a new buyer was purchasing the company through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.

Although our insightful President says we're not recession-bound, be prepared to hear more stories like this. Bankruptcies and liquidations are expected to reach record levels this year.

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