MILWAUKEE — The Bon-Ton Stores, which operates 260 department stores in the U.S., is expected to go out of businesses after two liquidation firms became the highest bidders at an auction for the bankrupt company’s assets Tuesday.
A bankruptcy court hearing was scheduled Wednesday to approve the sale and liquidation details, but a statement from the company’s CEO suggested the end for The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. is certain.
“While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern, we are committed to working constructively with the winning bidder to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations,” said President and CEO Bill Tracy.
The 160-year-old company has survived economic recessions and depressions, but like several other brick-and-mortar retailers in recent years it couldn’t survive the shift toward e-commerce, led by Amazon.com Inc.
The Bon-Ton Stores has a strong presence in Wisconsin, where it operates nine stores and employs 2,255 people who will lose their jobs. One of the company’s headquarters is in downtown Milwaukee.
“The stores obviously have been a part of this community for decades and decades and it’s sad to see them go,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Liquidation firms Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group were the highest bidders for the company’s assets and no one else was willing to outbid them to continue store operations.
The Bon-Ton Stores was operating 260 stores in 24 states, largely in the Northeast and Midwest, when it filed for bankruptcy in January. The stores operate under different names, including Younkers, Boston Store and Carson’s.
Cultural retail behemoth Toys R Us is also going through liquidation and in March initiated a going-out-of-business sale at its U.S. stores after operating under bankruptcy protection for months.
“I don’t think there are too many willing investors in brick and mortar stores now. They’ve seen what’s going on. I think people are nervous,” said Purush Papatla, marketing professor and interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Essentially liquidators have an open field.”
The businesses The Bon-Ton Stores has across the country sometimes serve as anchors at malls, and their departure could impact other businesses nearby with less foot traffic, Papatla said.
One Boston Store is located in Milwaukee’s Shops of Grand Avenue mall.
“It’s part of a national transformation,” Barrett said. “Consumer preferences are changing dramatically and changing very fast right now.”
Area Stores Closing
Aurora: Carson’s Clearance Center Aurora, 970 North Lake Street
Aurora: Carson’s Aurora, 3 Fox Valley Center Drive
Bloomingdale: Carson’s Bloomingdale, 4 Stratford Square
Bloomington: Bergner’s Bloomington, 1601 Empire Street
Bourbonnais: Carson’s Bourbonnais, 1602 North State Rt. 50
Champaign: Bergner’s Champaign, 2000 North Neil Street
Chicago: Carson’s Chicago, 120 South Riverside Plaza
Chicago: Carson’s Chicago, 7601 South Cicero Avenue
Chicago Ridge: Carson’s Chicago Ridge, 9800 South Ridgeland Avenue
Danville: Carson’s Danville, 2917 N. Vermillion
DeKalb: Carson’s DeKalb, 2550 Sycamore Rd.
Dundee: Carson’s Dundee, 4000 Spring Hill Mall
Evergreen Park: Carson’s Evergreen Park, 9700 S. Western Avenue
Forsyth: Bergner’s Forsyth, 1005 Hickory Point Mall
Galesburg: Bergner’s Galesburg, 1150 West Carl Sandburg Drive
Joliet: Carson’s Joliet, 3340 Mall Loop Drive
Lincolnwood: Carson’s Lincolnwood, 3333 West Touhy
Lombard: Carson’s Furniture Gallery Lombard, 2 Yorktown Mall Drive
Lombard: Carson’s Lombard, 230 Yorktown Shopping Center
Mattoon: Carson’s Mattoon, 700 Broadway E.
Moline: Younkers Moline, 4200 16th Street
Morton Grove: Carson’s Clearance Center Morton Grove, 7234 Dempster St.
Mount Prospect: Carson’s Mount Prospect, 1025 Center Drive
Naperville: Carson’s Furniture Clearance Center Naperville, 1835 Jefferson Ave.
Norridge: Carson’s Norridge, 4200 N. Harlem Avenue
North Riverside: Carson’s North Riverside, 7505 West Cermak Road
Orland Park: Carson’s Orland Park, 4 Orland Square
Orland Park: Carson’s Furniture Gallery Orland Park, 66 Orland Square
Pekin: Bergner’s Pekin, 3536 Court Street
Peoria: Bergner’s Peoria, 4125 North Sheridan Road
Peoria: Bergner’s Peoria, 5203 West War Memorial Dr.
Peru: Bergner’s Peru, 3940 Route 251
Quincy: Bergner’s Quincy, 3347 Broadway
Rockford: Bergner’s Rockford, 7200 Harrison Avenue
Saint Charles: Carson’s Saint Charles, 3850 East Main Street
Schaumburg: Carson’s Furniture Gallery Schaumburg, 830 East Golf Road
Springfield: Bergner’s Springfield, 2501 West Wabash
Sterling: Bergner’s Sterling, 2900 East Lincolnway
Vernon Hills: Carson’s Furniture Gallery Vernon Hills, 480 Ring Drive
Vernon Hills: Carson’s Vernon Hills, 3 Hawthorne Center
Wilmette: Carson’s Furniture Gallery Wilmette, 3232 Lake Avenue, Ste 330
Wilmette: Carson’s Wilmette, 3200 Lake Avenue
Anderson: Carson’s Anderson, 2101 State Road 109
Columbus: Carson’s Columbus, 2104 25th St.
Elkhart: Carson’s Elkhart, 3701 S. Main
Fort Wayne: Carson’s Fort Wayne, 4201 Coldwater Road
Hammond: Carson’s Hammond, 6600 Indianapolis Boulevard
Indianapolis: Carson’s Indianapolis, One W. Washington St.
Jasper: Carson’s Jasper, 3875 Newton St.
Kokomo: Carson’s Kokomo, 1540 East Blvd.
Marion: Carson’s Marion, 1129 N. Baldwin
Merrillville: Carson’s Merrillville, 1995 Southlake Mall
Michigan City: Carson’s Michigan City, 305 West US 20
Muncie: Carson’s Muncie, 3501 N. Granville Ave.
Richmond: Elder-Beerman Richmond, 601 Promenade
Terre Haute: Carson’s Terre Haute, 3401 S US Highway 41
Warsaw: Carson’s Warsaw, 2856 Frontage