It’s do or die for Elder-Beerman stores in next month

TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The fate of Elder-Beerman stores in the Miami Valley could be decided in the next month.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc., the parent company of Elder-Beerman could be sold but also could be liquidated as the department store retailer makes its way through bankruptcy procedings.

Bon-Ton filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, facing pressure from online sales and changing retail spending habits.

Now as part of court procedings, Bon-Ton and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware have agreed to start bidding April 9 for the company’s assets, according to Retail Dive.

Some of the potential bidders would like to sell all of Bon-Ton’s assets to pay its creditors, the new report stated. But others are interested in trying to salvage the company and reorganize to keep some stores operating.

Reuters reported Bon-Ton is racing to find a buyer to keep some of its stores open but otherwise could be liquidated like Toys 'R' Us if negotiations do not produce a viable turnaround strategy.

Bon-Ton has a major presence in the Dayton region and what happens to the company could affect local jobs.

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Along with its distribution center in Fairborn, there are Elder-Beerman stores across the region in Dayton, Huber Heights, Kettering, Piqua and Beavercreek.

Bon-Ton, which has more than $1 billion in debt, hasn’t been profitable since 2010.

Elder-Beerman has a deep-rooted presence in the Miami Valley — and it can be traced back to another store, Boston Dry Goods, in 1883. The Boston Dry Goods store was opened by Thomas Elder, William Hunter, Jr. and Russell Johnston on East Third Street in the early 1880s. It sold textiles, clothing and groceries, and it later became the Elder & Johnston Co.

The company continued to expand, acquiring department stores in Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky. In 1993, the 50th store opened at the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek. In 2003, Elder-Beerman was acquired by Bon-Ton Stores.

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