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Carson's parent Bon-Ton Stores heading for liquidation

April 18, 2018

The end is near for Bon-Ton Stores, the 160-year-old department store chain that operates more than 250 stores under various names, including Carson's, Younkers and Elder-Beerman.

Two liquidation firms are the victors of an auction for the bankrupt company's assets, after the retailer failed to find a bidder willing to continue operating the business. A bankruptcy court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to approve the sale and liquidation details.

Bon-Ton had already announced plans to close several of its 15 stores in Indiana, including the three-story Carson's store in downtown Indianapolis that served as an anchor for Circle Centre mall. The 145,000-square-foot store is nearing the end of a liquidation sale that began Feb. 1.

"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 Bon-Ton President and CEO Bill Tracy in a written statement.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. was operating 260 stores in 24 states, largely in the Northeast and Midwest, when it filed for bankruptcy in January. Liquidation firms Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group are the winners of the auction.

The 160-year-old company has survived economic recessions and depressions, but it couldn't withstand technology that bolstered the ascendance of electronic retailing. The shift toward e-commerce, led by Amazon.com Inc., has claimed many other traditional and mall-based retailers, including cultural retail behemoth Toys R Us.

Toys R Us is in the process of shutting down its U.S. business. In March it initiated a going-out-of-business sale at its stores after operating under bankruptcy protection for months.

Bon-Ton has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pennsylvania.

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