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At a glance
Carson’s department store is preparing to open in Fort Wayne next fall. Here’s some information on the retailer’s parent company Bon-Ton Stores Inc.:
Founded: 1898
Locations: 272 stores in 23 states
Store names: Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, Younkers and Parisian
Workers: 27,100 full- and part-time
2011 annual sales: $2.9 billion
Stock market: Shares closed at $11.13, down 15 cents on the Nasdaq at the end of trading Wednesday
Source: Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

Glenbrook lands Carson’s department store

A shopping center got a gift this holiday season.

Glenbrook Square on Wednesday announced it inked a deal to bring Carson’s department store to Fort Wayne, filling a spot vacated by Marshall Field’s in 2005. Remodeling of the 122,000-square-foot store will begin in February with officials anticipating a mid-September opening.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. of York, Pa., owns Carson Pirie Scott & Co., known informally as Carson’s, which has 14 Indiana locations, including a Warsaw store.

Purdue University retail expert Richard Feinberg said the retailer’s pending foray into Fort Wayne bodes well for shoppers.

“The customer always wins” when there is more competition, Feinberg said. “They are a relatively well-managed company. They competed for many years against Marshall Field’s and now Macy’s, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

Feinberg is curious, though, about whether Bon-Ton was offered any incentives on leasing, considering today’s competitive retail market.

“You wonder if they’re not paying full rent for a period and things like that,” he said.

Officials declined to release such details. Bon-Ton spokeswoman Mary Kerr said the company has a multiyear lease with General Growth Properties Inc. of Chicago, owner of Glenbrook.

“We love Indiana,” Kerr said. “We first came into the (Indiana) market through our acquisitions of other stores in 2003 and 2006. Moving into Fort Wayne was a natural extension for us.”

Bon-Ton also expects to open a 120,800-square-foot store at the Maine Mall in South Portland, Maine, next fall.

Marshall Field’s debuted at Glenbrook in 1997 when Dayton Hudson Corp. remodeled its Hudson’s store and found Fort Wayne customers identified more with the Marshall Field’s name than Hudson’s. The store was originally built in 1981.

For the past two years, GlowGolf amusement center has occupied a portion of the lower level of the location. It is uncertain whether the business will stay in the mall or relocate. A manager with GlowGolf said whatever happens, the business isn’t likely to leave the area.

As for Carson’s, Kerr said executives like the regional appeal of Glenbrook, which pulls customers from throughout northeast Indiana and neighboring Ohio counties.

“It looked like a growth opportunity for the company,” she said. “With locations already in the area, we feel we have a relationship with the customer.”

Glenbrook officials say Carson’s will beef up the mall’s offerings.

“The addition of Carson’s illustrates our commitment to offer our customers the best retail in the area,” Glenbrook spokesman Chris Ford said. “Carson’s offers a great merchandise mix, and we’re thrilled to offer our shoppers with yet another stellar retail option.”

Carson’s will join existing anchor stores Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Sears at the mall.

Jessica Swartout, 22, says she doesn’t shop at Glenbrook often – but Carson’s could change her habits.

“I don’t like the traffic,” the Fort Wayne cashier said. “About as close as I get to Glenbrook is Target, but if they (Glenbrook) have (brands) I like, I might shop there more.”

pwyche@jg.net

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