Younkers department store closes its doors forever

Published 8:19 am Thursday, August 30, 2018

After decades of being a well-known fixture in Austin, the city’s only department store closed for business on Wednesday.

The department store closed at 5 p.m. after organizing going-out-of-business sales with extensive discounts for its liquidation of assets that reached upward of 70 to 90 percent off of store merchandise, furniture and fixtures, with an additional 40 percent price cut from a customer’s total purchase, according to the Austin location’s Facebook page.

Back in February, Bon-Ton and its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for a court-supervised financial restructuring under Chapter 11, and the company had closed 47 store locations in January and operated 250 stores in 23 states.

Email newsletter signup

Bon-Ton Stores failed to find bidders who would continue to operate the stores, according to CEO Bill Tracy in a previous story, despite signs in the spring that an investor group was prepared to do so.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of our associates for their dedicated service to Bon-Ton and to our millions of loyal customers who we have had the pleasure to serve as their hometown store for more than 160 years,” Tracy said in a statement on the company website.

Austin’s store location remodeled within the last few years after Bon-Ton acquired Younkers in 2006, and Hy-Vee was the most recent owner of the Younkers site. The purchase of the store and remodeling was connected to the Oak Park Mall sale and demolition in 2015 as part of the new Hy-Vee store deal.

It wasn’t just Austin that experienced a loss of another retailer. All stores operating under the Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., umbrella also shuttered their doors forever, including Herberger’s in Albert Lea and Rochester.

For Albert Lea, the store location closed on Sunday, and the last few individuals wanting to purchase store fixtures were able to on Monday.

“It’s sad,” said Jessi Mary of Lake Mills, who was at the Albert Lea store Monday, buying some of the shelves for her JM Hair Studio. “It’s sad that they’re closing everywhere.”