Minnesota will lose 20 department stores in coming months as the corporate parent of Herberger’s shutters all of its 250 locations, the company announced Thursday.
Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which is headquartered in Milwaukee and York, Pa., was bought out of bankruptcy by liquidators on Tuesday and will begin companywide going-out-of-business sales on Friday, according to a Bon-Ton news release.
Bon-Ton 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 in addition to Herberger’s, including Younkers, Bergner’s, Boston Store and Carson’s.
While the loss of five Herberger’s locations in the Twin Cities represents yet another blow to the local shopping scene, the liquidation of Bon-Ton will likely be felt more acutely outside the metro area, where the Herberger’s department store chain got its start nearly a century ago.
In small cities across Minnesota, Herberger’s stores anchor downtown business districts and draw rural shoppers from miles around.
In New Ulm, where Herberger’s has stood on Minnesota Street since 1946, customer Marilyn Macho said the rapidly changing retail market is unsettling, especially for older people.
“There’s a lot of people my age who aren’t Internet shoppers,” Macho said. “I’m not a big shopper but this is all we have.”
Amy Baldwin, economic development director of Fergus Falls, said that while the loss of Herberger’s will leave a hole in the the city’s business district, it also represents an opportunity for local retailers to step in.
“What is happening is a re-emphasis on the locally and regionally owned retailers and people want that experience,” Baldwin said. “They are looking for shopping to be an experience and do not want the big box stores with mass produced goods.”