Bids for Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. auction were from liquidators, reports say

The end could be near for Bon-Ton Stores.

Reuters is reporting The Bon-Ton Stores may be going out of business after only liquidators showed an interest in the company at a court-supervised auction.

One Bon-Ton remains in Central New York, at the Camillus Commons on West Genesee Street. Local Bon-Ton chains can be found in the Arnot Mall in Horseheads, The Shops at Ithaca Mall in Ithaca and the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City. The firm, citing sources familiar with the matter, said the auction was to resume Tuesday at 9 a.m.

The group signed a letter of intent to purchase Bon-Ton at the bankruptcy auction, outlining the terms of a deal that would have kept the current management team in place and the business operating. The fee, which the court rejected last week, was necessary to securing that bid, the attorney said.

One of the two bids is a joint effort from Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners, which is the same group running a store liquidation for Toys R Us.

Other stores operated by Bon-Ton are under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Carson's, Elder- Beerman and Herberger's names, but most of its stores have histories that predate the parent company.

Proceeds from Monday's auction will be used to repay Bon-Ton's creditors, according to the State Journal.

If it loses Bon-Ton, it will put the mall's occupancy rate at 78.7 percent - below the 80 percent occupancy benchmark where analysts consider a mall at risk.

The Oakdale Mall in Johnson City opened in 1975. On Thursday it was announced that the mall's Sears will close. And has a location at the Chautauqua Mall. Both have served as anchor stores for the mall. If anything were to happen to any of those locations, it would leave voids in those retail strips.

Brick and mortar retailers have faced growing pressure from internet sales and discount retailers like Walmart and Target. Its business strategy was to place stores in communities that lacked a variety of fashion options, but online shopping made physical stores unnecessary, allowing consumers to bypass Bon-Ton for new options online.

The company, founded in 1898, has headquarters in York, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.