Bon-Ton’s demise almost a certainty

After receiving only two bids from liquidation firms at an April 16 auction, it appears Bon-Ton Stores Inc. will have no option but to close all of its stores, according to various media reports. Money raised at the auction will be used to pay creditors.

The fate of the struggling retail company, the parent of Boston Stores, Herberger’s, Younkers, and Elder-Beerman, was hanging in the balance after a bankruptcy judge last week denied a request to give a $500,000 work fee to the only investor group interested in keeping the stores open. Without that group’s bid, liquidation appears to be the only option.

Bon-Ton operated 200 stores around the country, and in Wisconsin alone, including its Milwaukee headquarters, employs a reported 2,225 workers. The Boston Store brand had existed in the Milwaukee area since 1897, but Bon-Ton came into Wisconsin when it purchased Saks Inc. Northern Group in 2006, of which Boston Store was a part. Bon-Ton hasn’t made a profit since 2010.