SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — The capital city’s mall is about to become a bit emptier with the upcoming closure of two of their anchor stores.

Bon-Ton Stores, which owns and operates 260 department stores including the Bergner’s retail chain, announced in April that that all stores will be closing permanently.

Also closing is the Sears location, according to parent company Sears Holdings and their press release in May, citing a history of not turning a profit. The company sold the Craftsman brand last year and are currently trying to sell the Kenmore brand, Sears Home Services and PartsDirect. Nothing was referenced regarding the information technology platform ServiceLive. An offical closure date has not been officially announced.

A pending offer from the company’s majority shareholders, ESL Investments, was presented in a letter the the company’s board in April to acquire the three brands for $500 million plus an offer on all existing real estate, but also undertaking the estimated $1.2 billion in debt liabilities related to real estate. No decision has been made to date.

Both spaces will soon be empty, which will be a negative for local commerce, as the closures come more than one year after H.H. Gregg closed their location in May 2017. The electronics chain was purchased by Valor Group LLC three months later for $400,000 to relaunch exclusively online, with a long-term plan to open new stores. The only store location not affiliated with the former organization is located in Somerset, NJ.

The closures seem to baffle Illinois Chamber of Commerce president Todd Maisch.

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“There’s always been a lot of creation of new retailers, and some retailers who don’t make it,” Maisch said. “But the big guys not making it is a new phenomenon.”

Maisch added that the closures of the stores doesn’t mean people aren’t spending their hard-earned money, but rather spreading it out more with other retailers.

“Think of all the development out on West Wabash,” Maisch said. “When the mall was first opened, none of that was there.”

Maisch stated that the mall will still be around for some time, but will need to make some restructuring.

“That’s a very, very large space for one person to come in and take a lot of it,” Maisch said. “So that’s just an informed guess, but I think that they’re going to have to go ahead and subdivide that space.”

Some said they still think Springfield’s retailers have a bright future.

According to employees of the liquidation companies for both stores, the stores should close later this week or sometime in September.

Simon Properties, the owner of the mall, will evaluate their options for the spaces following the official store closures.

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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.

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