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Younkers is in bankruptcy.

It appears the end might be near for Younkers and other Bon-Ton Stores brands.

Reuters, citing anonymous sources, reported late Monday that the only bids that came in during a bankruptcy auction Monday were from two groups that want to liquidate the company.

Bon-Ton had been working on a deal with asset manager DW Partners and mall owners Namdar Realty and Washington Prime Group that the company said would keep most or all of its stores open. But the group apparently did not submit a bid Monday.

A judge still has to sign off on a sale of the company, but with the only bids from firms wanting to liquidate, it would seem its days are numbered.

Bon-Ton filed for bankruptcy in February shortly after it announced the closure of more than 40 stores. Like other retailers, it was weighed down by debt and flagging sales, and was hoping to use the bankruptcy process to restructure.

Earlier this month, Bon-Ton sent notices to several states warning of potential job losses from store closures if it was forced to liquidate.

In a letter to the Nebraska Department of Labor, Bon-Ton said more than 350 jobs were at risk, although it only listed its two stores in Omaha as being at risk of closing. The letter said stores could close in June.

In addition to Younkers stores at Gateway Mall in Lincoln and in Grand Island, Bon-Ton also has Herberger's locations in Hastings, Kearney, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

Younkers has had a store at Gateway since 1987, when it bought Omaha-based Brandeis.

If it does go out of business, it would be the second big-box chain to close Lincoln stores this year. Toys 'R' Us announced in March that it was going out of business and would close all of its more than 700 U.S. stores, including the one at 5220 N. 27th St. in Lincoln. A toy mogul had launched a bid to try to buy 275 of the chain's locations; however, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the bid was rejected.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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