Herberger’s and the other store chains that were part of Bon-Ton Stores Inc. may stick around after all.
The chains were just finishing closeout sales at the end of a bankruptcy liquidation process that began four months ago. Then, a surprise message appeared on Herbergers.com Friday: “We’ve got great news — Herberger’s is coming back!”
The same message, in the same typeface and with the same photo, appeared on the homepages of other Bon-Ton chains, including Iowa-based Younkers, Carson’s in Illinois and Wisconsin, and the Bon-Ton and Boston Store chains out on the East Coast.
Many of the Bon-Ton chains had roots in the Midwest. Herberger’s got its start in Osakis, Minn., Younkers in Keokuk, Iowa, Carson’s in Peru, Ill.
There have been no announcements from Bon-Ton or its creditors about the message on the websites.
Bon-Ton, which had headquarters in York, Pa., and Milwaukee, announced in mid-April that it would close its more than 200 stores with proceeds from their liquidation used to pay off creditors. The company for about a year had been trying to sell itself but without success.
In Minnesota, there were 14 Herberger’s stores and two Younkers stores. The last Herberger’s locations in the Twin Cities closed this past Sunday and Monday. Stores in other Bon-Ton chains also closed.
How does the State Fair treat out-of-state vendors?
Three-quarters of the Minnesota State Fair’s nonfood vendors and 70 percent of food/beverage vendors are residents of the state.
It begs the question: Do Minnesotans get preferential treatment?
No, said Jim Sinclair, the fair’s deputy general manager.
“We do not make judgments of any kind about those who submit license registration requests and we have no interest in names, addresses or other affiliations,” he said in an e-mail. “This exposition cannot and does not selectively discriminate for or against registrants on the basis of from where they come or base its license assignments on from where their product or service may originate.”
So why does the fair accept one small business over another? It’s all about the product mix at the fair.
It’s unlikely that a food-vendor applicant wanting to sell hot dogs will get a green light due to the number hot dog and Pronto Pup vendors already operating. But if someone wants to sell adult and kids’ fashion belts made from recycled seat belts, it’s safe to say that few other fair vendors are already selling them.
Nonfood entrepreneurs who want to scout out the possibilities of being at next year’s state fair may want to take a look to see how many other vendors are already selling something similar.
Even if another vendor or two are doing so, that’s not grounds for refusal. Sinclair said that the fair encourages competition.
Few potential vendors ever request specific placement on the fairgrounds, but the most likely placement for a new nonfood vendor is in the Grandstand. It’s the largest exhibit facility on the fairgrounds and houses the highest number of concessionaires.
“It will naturally experience the greatest level of exhibit turnover from year to year,” Sinclair said.