Elder_Beerman

BELOIT

Bon-Ton Stores announced Beloit’s Elder-Beerman store will close under a plan for the retailer to shed 47 stores over the next 10 to 12 weeks.

The Beloit store at the Eclipse Center is one of nine Wisconsin stores the Milwaukee-based company will close as part of a restructuring plan announced last year, the company said in a release Wednesday.

Janesville’s Boston Store, one of Bon-Ton’s Wisconsin holdings, is not listed in the news release.

Bon-Ton CEO Bill Tracy said in a statement that the closures are “part of the comprehensive turnaround plan we announced in November. We are taking the next steps to move forward with a more productive store footprint.”

Tracy thanked longtime shoppers and said through the closures Bon-Ton would “remain focused on executing key initiatives to drive improved performance in an effort to strengthen our capital structure to support the business going forward.”

It’s not clear what date the Beloit store will close, but Bon-Ton said it’s working with a third-party liquidation firm to hold store sales. The company said store closings are set to begin today and roll out over the next 10 to 12 weeks.

Employees of those stores will be offered interviews for available positions at other Bon-Ton locations, the company said.

Andrew Janke, Beloit economic development director, called the planned closure of the Elder-Beerman store “disappointing.”

The store is the last retailer at the Eclipse Center, a former shopping mall that since the 1990s has relaunched as a multiuse building housing an expo center, the Beloit Public Library, community service nonprofit Community Action and Beloit Area Community Health Center.

The Elder-Beerman store had located at the former mall as the mall itself was scuffling to remain open, and the store remained there even as the surrounding mall was bought out.

Janke said the Elder-Beerman store is owned by a holding company owned by Beloit businesswoman Diane Hendricks, and Bon-Ton leases the space.

“What’s amazing is that the store had been viable as long as it has—even with the (Eclipse) building transitioning away from use as a mall,” Janke said.

The store’s planned closure leaves just a few department store retailers in Beloit, including a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Shopko store, Janke said.

Janke said he’s aware the Hendricks group earlier had tried working with Bon-Ton to find an alternative location nearer Interstate 90/39.

“I hadn’t heard anything new about those discussions in a long, long time,” Janke said.

The Gazette was not able to reach Hendricks’ real estate arm, Hendricks Commercial Properties, for comment Wednesday.

Along with the Beloit store, Bon-Ton listed eight other Wisconsin stores slated for closure:

  • Younkers at the Fox River Mall in Appleton.
  • Boston Store at Heritage Village, Beaver Dam.
  • Younkers at the Forrest Mall, Fond du Lac.
  • Younkers at Lakeshore Edgewater Plaza, Manitowoc.
  • Younkers at Pine Tree Mall, Marinette.
  • Boston Store Clearance Center, Milwaukee.
  • Younkers at the Mariner Mall, Superior.
  • Younkers at the Wausau Center Mall, Wausau.

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