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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 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