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[Editor's Note: Ian Ritter is taking a much-deserved vacation over the next week, and GlobeSt.com retail reporter Debra Hazel is filling in for him on Counter Culture. Please be nice.]Mention 1969 to any New York Mets fan, and we all get a little dreamy with visions of Seaver, Koosman, Ryan and the late great Gil Hodges (yes, man walked on the moon and there was some concert upstate, but we have our priorities straight). But that year also saw the birth of The Gap, so the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a concert to be simulcast in more than 700 stores this evening, contests and a casual day (in 1969 Premium jeans) at the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow.All the hoopla, however, can’t erase the fact that like the Mets, recent years haven’t been kind to The Gap. Final second quarter sales and earnings will be released later today, but total company July comp sales were down 8%. On Aug. 6, the company said its second quarter comps also decreased 8%. Still, the chain anticipated posting a profit of 32 cents per share, and the sales decreases are an improvement over last year’s results, when July same-store sales dropped 11% and declined 10% for the quarter.Though we’re a far cry from the era when Gap pretty much dressed the country, the chain says merchandise margins are healthier. Is the Gap slowly coming back? What will keep it from being another exhibit at some retail equivalent of Old-Timer’s Day?

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