Confirming what had been feared since a bankruptcy filing earlier this year, Bon-Ton Stores, the parent company of the Herberger's brand, will be closing stores that have helped anchor malls across the Upper Midwest.
A bankruptcy filing list includes 20 stores in Minnesota, three in North Dakota and four in South Dakota that will close.
In a news release from Bon-Ton, which operates more than 250 regional department stores across the United States, including Herberger's, Younkers and Carson's, the announcement was made that a group of companies will acquire the inventory and certain other assets of Bon-Ton that will be liquidated.
In the news release on Wednesday, April 18, Bon-Ton President and CEO Bill Tracy said "we are disappointed by this outcome" and that the company tried to find bidders interested in keeping the stores open.
The company is committed to "an orderly wind-down of operations that minimizes the impact of this development on our associates, customers, vendors and the communities we serve," but did not offer specifics on stores closings.
The company filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 4.
"The closure of Herberger's has been on our radar for some time," said Alissa Adams, senior vice president of marketing and business development for the West Acres Mall in Fargo, commenting on fallout from the bankruptcy of Bon-Ton Stores.
The statement on the Bon-Ton website said that throughout the court-supervised sale of company assets, all of Bon-Ton's brands, including Herberger's, will remain open through store-closing sales. Money earned through the liquidation will go toward paying off Bon-Ton's creditors.
Adams said Bon-Ton was hit hard during the recession a decade ago and was never able to recover.
Scot Snitker manages malls in Bemidji and Alexandria, Minn., that have Herberger's stores.
"Herberger's is profitable; as a company they're profitable," Snitker said. "Unfortunately Bon-Ton is not."
Herberger's was founded in Minnesota, with its first store opening in Osakis in 1889.
Moorhead resident Norma Erickson said she sometimes shops at the Moorhead Center Mall Herberger's once a week, "sometimes once every couple weeks."
She said if the Herberger's closes, "You're going to lose the Center Mall completely."
But Bob Grantham, known to many as Bob the barber, isn't so sure.
Grantham, owner of His hair salon in the Center Mall, said if Herberger's does leave, he hopes another clothing store can be found to replace it.
"Sometimes, when something changes, it's bigger and better," he said.