AP NEWS

Younkers down to final days in Lincoln

August 22, 2018

It looks like this will be Younkers’ last week in Lincoln.

A sign on the entrance to the department store at Gateway Mall on Tuesday said “Last 5 Days.” That would put the closing either Saturday or Sunday.

But based on the amount of merchandise left in the store, it appears the end could come sooner.

The lower level of the store had no merchandise Tuesday, only store fixtures and signage for sale. The upper level appeared less than half-full.

In addition to some clothes and shoes, there was a smattering of jewelry, housewares, accessories and cosmetics remaining.

Younkers’ parent company, Bob-Ton stores, declared bankruptcy in February and in April announced it was going out of business.

Liquidation sales began April 20 and were scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

However, that’s dependent on the amount of merchandise remaining.

Younkers has stopped selling merchandise on its website, and some stores in the chain have already closed.

Officials with Great American Group, the company handling the liquidation sale, could not be reached for comment. But a representative of the company told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week that nearly 80 percent of the company’s merchandise had been sold and had generated $1.9 billion in revenue.

Younkers traces its roots back to 1856. It entered the Lincoln market in 1987 when it bought the Brandeis chain and was acquired by Bon-Ton in 2005.

The store’s closing will leave a large vacancy at Gateway Mall, where it has been an anchor tenant for decades. The two-level space on the northwest corner of the mall is about 100,000 square feet.

Mall officials have not said what their plans are for the space or whether there has been any interest from potential tenants.

“Here at Gateway, our goal is to serve our guests and shoppers’ evolving needs, so if a space opens to us, we consider ways to add new ideas to the property,” Marketing Manager Becky Sidles said in a statement. “As we consider our options in Lincoln, we will continue to make thoughtful decisions about what makes sense for our guests and shoppers, what complements our current offerings and what supports the surrounding community.”

Whatever fills the space is likely not to be another big-box retailer. Both local and national commercial real estate experts told the Journal Star earlier this year that possible tenants for the space would include offices, a call center, self-storage, senior housing or some sort of entertainment use.

Not only will the closing of Younkers leave a hole in the mall, it also will take a bite out of the local labor market.

According to information from the Nebraska Department of Labor, the Lincoln Younkers store had 90 employees before the closing was announced.

Younkers also has two stores in Omaha and one in Grand Island. Herberger’s, another Bon-Ton-owned retailer, has locations in Hastings, Kearney, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

All the locations combined, including Lincoln, employed more than 700 people, according to the Labor Department.

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