Carson's in Danville among 42 Bon-Ton stores set to close

Carson's in Danville among 42 Bon-Ton stores set to close

Updated 10:00 a.m.

DANVILLE — Josia Miller reckons she stops in to Carson's at the Village Mall in Danville about once week.

"It's a nice store," said Miller, who was shopping Wednesday afternoon for slacks for her husband. "You could always count on it for having nice brands and quality things."

Miller said she was saddened to hear the department store and mall anchor is closing.

The Bon-Ton Stores announced Wednesday the closing of 42 stores — which also operate as Bergner's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's, Younkers and Boston Store — in 13 states as part of a reorganization announced in November.

According to the company, Bon-Ton has partnered with third-party liquidator Hilco Merchant Resources to help manage the store closing sales, which are set to begin today and run for about 10 to 12 weeks.

Local Carson's managers declined to comment on how many full- and part-time employees the store has and referred all questions to its corporate office.

Bon-Ton spokeswoman Christine Hojnacki did not return phone calls or emails.

The company announced that associates at the locations being closed will be offered a chance to interview for available positions at other stores.

The Tabani Group, which owns the mall, hasn't been formally notified, but it did receive Bon-Ton's news release, spokeswoman Theresa Dorlan said.

"Carson's has been a long-valued tenant of Village Mall, and we were sorry to learn that it will be one of 47 Bon-Ton store locations slated to close in early 2018," she said in an email to The News-Gazette, referencing five other recent closings in addition to Wednesday's tally. "The news is disappointing and surprising, as the impending closure will take place seven years before the scheduled end of the Carson's lease commitment at Village Mall."

While her company isn't able to comment or speculate on Bon-Ton's corporate operations or financial stability, Dorlan said, "we strongly believe that the premature store closure is not a reflection of the performance of the Village Mall store.

"We are currently reviewing our options and are confident that the space's prime location and momentum gained by the mall's recent additions to its tenant lineup — including Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, CitiTrends and Slumberland — will attract strong interest from prime national and regional retailers," she continued, adding the owners remain "deeply committed" to the Danville community and "welcome this opportunity to continue our revitalization of the mall."

Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer called the closing a "big loss to the community."

"Carson's has been a longtime staple of our mall and a valuable store to our community," he said in an email. "They have always been managed and staffed well and provided a favorable shopping experience in both product and service. They have been a good employer for many people in our city, and many will unfortunately, find themselves looking for other employment opportunities."

Eisenhauer was also quick to point out the closure isn't a "Danville issue," but a trend with brick-and-mortar retail stores across the country.

"People will be quick to want to suggest this closing is somehow community specific, and it is not," he said. "Every month you read another story about a retail chain in this country closing stores, and we have been fairly lucky the impact has not been greater. But as long as people continue to shop online, the presence of stores in communities like ours will continue to dwindle. People need to change their shopping habits, relying more on the stores present in their city rather than courting the comforts of online shopping or other national chains are likely to follow suit."

Miller recalled that back when she was in high school, she bought her first pair of Nikes at L. Meis, one of the predecessors to Carson's. She said she's been a loyal customer of whatever store occupied the mall space since then.

Later, Bon-Ton operated a Elder-Beerman at the location before changing its nameplate to Carson's, a more recognizable name, in July 2011.

"It breaks my heart that it's closing," Miller said. "I guess now I'll have to go to Champaign."

Westville residents Pat Pataki and Connie Pierce said they're also loyal Carson's shoppers, and were disappointed to learn of the closing.

"I like it better than Kohl's," said Pataki, who likes the department store's shoe selection and recently bought a pair of boots there.

The women said they believe closing doesn't bode well for the mall.

"If this closes, I'm afraid it will go down," Pierce said.

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