By Bob Uphues
UPDATED: April 19, 2018 at 5:07 p.m.
Going-out-of-business sales will begin Friday, April 20 at Carson Pirie Scott at the North Riverside Park Mall and the store is expected to close for good within 10 to 12 weeks, according to a press release issued by its parent company, The Bon Ton Stores, on Thursday.
Carson Pirie Scott will begin shutting down its North Riverside operation over the next few months after its parent company announced that it will soon begin the process of liquidating all of its assets.
The Bon Ton Stores, which operates more than 250 stores under various brand names in the U.S., held an auction of its assets on April 16. According to a news release issued by the company late on April 17, the two top bids came from companies seeking to buy Bon Ton's assets and liquidate them to pay off creditors.
"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 that minimizes the impact of this development on our associates, customers, vendors and the communities we serve."
North Riverside Finance Director Sue Scarpiniti said Carson's at the mall is one of the top 10 retail sales tax producers in the village. However, she said, strong sales tax revenues coming from other businesses in North Riverside will help offset the loss that officials will need to build into their budget for the village's 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins May 1.
"The loss of sales tax from Carson's will not be a dollar-for-dollar impact to the village's revenue base, as better-than-anticipated sales figures are being reported by several of our newer businesses and the opening of new businesses expected in 2018-19 will help offset against this loss," Scarpiniti said in an email. "I expect there to be lengthy discussions on how best to address the loss in revenue in the upcoming months and the overall impact to the village's budget as more information becomes available."
The Bon Ton Stores traces its roots back to the 1850s and operates stores under various nameplates, including Carson Pirie Scott, Bon Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younker's.
According to the news release, the winning auction bid came from a pair of liquidations firms, Great American Group LLC and Tiger Capital Group LLC. According to a Wednesday filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the purchase price is about $575 million.
Another court filing on April 18 identified the back-up bid as coming from two other liquidation companies, Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners.
Last week, Bon Ton Stores announced it had a signed letter of intent from two real estate firms and a hedge fund stating the partnership was bidding to purchase "substantially all" of the company's assets and keep the company going.
However, that group did not enter a bid, according to Reuters. That bid was dealt a blow late last week when a bankruptcy court judge denied a request to allow Bon Ton Stores to pay a $500,000 "work fee" to Washington Prime Group and Namdar Realty Group, which own shopping malls where Bon Ton chain stores are located, and their hedge-fund partner, DW Partners.
The work fee, to help pay for the partnership's due diligence in making a bid, was described as a requirement for its participation in the auction.
Carson Pirie Scott occupies 180,000 square feet of retail space at the North Riverside Park Mall and was one of the three department stores that were the original anchor retailers when the mall opened in the mid-1970s.
The store's 160 employees were told the news about the store's impending closure on April 17. It's not yet clear what the timetable will be for shutting down operations. North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. told the Landmark he had been told the store would close in July.
In response to an email from the Landmark, a spokeswoman for The Bon Ton Stores' said information on the plan for winding down operations would follow once the bankruptcy court approves the winning auction bid.
The Bon Ton Stores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware in February. The company is headquartered jointly in Milwaukee and York, Pennsylvania.