Bon-Ton stores open for 10 to 12 weeks

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The Bon-Ton at Warren Mall will be open for another 10 to 12 weeks, according to a company vice-president.

The Bon-Tons at Warren Mall and Chautauqua Mall (Lakewood, N.Y.) will be open for another 10 to 12 weeks, according to a company vice-president.

The situation for the local stores is “pretty much the same for all our stores across the country,” Vice-President of Public Relations and Special Events Christine Hojnacki said Friday. “Today we started our going-out-of-business sales to liquidate our stores.”

Signs at the Warren store Friday said “entire store on sale” and “everything 10 to 30 percent off original price.”

“The sales will last 10 to 12 weeks,” Hojnacki said. “The store could close sooner or later, depending on how the sale goes. There is not a specific date at this time.”

“Throughout the store closing sales, our stores, e-commerce and mobile platforms under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates will remain open and serving customers,” according to a release posted on www.bontonrestructuring.com.

There was some initial confusion about the closing date for the local store.

Hojnacki responded early Friday morning to a Thursday email asking to confirm or deny the truth of rumors that the store was closing on Saturday.

“This is correct,” she replied. “Please find the answers to your questions at www.Bontonrestructuring.com.”

A Friday afternoon call to Hojnacki clarified the closing schedule.

Bon-Ton Stores was sold at a bankruptcy auction on Monday and the sale was approved in a federal bankruptcy court Wednesday.

The buyer — a joint venture including the company’s 8.0 percent Second Lien Secured Notes due 2021, Great American Group LLC, and Tiger Capital Group LLC — is conducting a liquidation of “the inventory and certain other assets of the company.”

“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,” President and CEO Bill Tracy said in a statement this week.

The company said Friday that store loyalty programs were discontinued; only cash and nationally recognized bank credit cards will be accepted as payments. Merchandise credits will continue to be honored for a period of 10 days following the first day of store closing sales.

Gift cards and certificates will continue to be honored for the next 10 days, the company said. In addition, coupons will no longer be valid once sales begin.

Bon-Ton 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 were 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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