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The Journal Gazette

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Saturday, April 21, 2018 1:00 am

Carson's closing after 4 years

Glenbrook anchor's parent in bankruptcy

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Carson's shoppers accustomed to seeing understated logos for Calvin Klein cologne, Clinique cosmetics and Calphalon cookware might be surprised this weekend by blaring black, yellow and red signs hanging from the ceiling.

The placards, which are also affixed to the doors, proclaim: Store closing. Going out of business. Everything must go. Up to 30 percent off.

On Wednesday, Carson's parent company appeared in a bankruptcy court hearing to approve its sale to two liquidation firms. The Bon-Ton Stores operates 260 department stores in the U.S.

As of midday Friday, the atmosphere remained hushed in the local upscale department store, one of Glenbrook Square's four anchor retailers.

But it was surely the calm before the blizzard of bargain hunters descends on the retailer. One clerk in the fine jewelry department advised a shopper not to wait too long to take advantage of the discounts.

Quality merchandise, including designer handbags that are rarely marked down, will go quickly, she said. Carson's sells men's, women's and children's clothing; shoes; fragrances; jewelry; housewares; and furniture. Some women's clothing and jewelry were being discounted by 20 percent at the register Friday.

A store manager, who asked not to be named in print, advised that the store will close its doors for good “as soon as we sell it all.”

Benita Kieler stocked up on some peppermint mocha pods for her Keurig coffee maker. They were 10 percent off.

The retired Fort Wayne woman pops into Carson's occasionally during her walks around the mall's interior. The retailer's closing seemed destined, in her opinion.

“I wasn't surprised because when you come here, usually it's never very busy,” Kieler said, adding that holiday time was the only exception.

The last time Glenbrook lost an anchor store – when Marshall Field's closed in June 2005 – the 120,000-square-foot space sat empty for more than eight years until Carson's opened in September 2013.

The mall's three other anchors are Macy's, Sears and J.C. Penney.

GGP, formerly known as General Growth Properties, operates Glenbrook Square, the 1.2 million-square-foot local mall. GGP owns about 450,000 square feet of Glenbrook. The anchor retailers own their locations – about 775,000 square feet total.

For the past few years, retail analysts have warned that brick-and-mortar stores will suffer mass casualties spurred by the rapid growth in online sales by companies such as Amazon.

Industry experts at times have described thousands of store closings as an Armageddon, an apocalypse and a tsunami.

Toys R Us is one of the most recent retailers to wave the white flag. It will liquidate merchandise and close 735 U.S. stores. The local store is in Glenbrook Commons, adjacent to the mall's parking lot.

Macy's, Sears and Penney are among the retailers that have closed other locations nationwide to reduce expenses. Those three combined to close more than 200 locations last year alone.

Mall executives in other cities have thought outside the big-box store to transform vacant department store space into boutique hotels, libraries, indoor playgrounds and other uses.

It's unclear what will happen with the Carson's space. The bankruptcy court will be involved in approving sales of the Bon-Ton's assets in order to pay its debtors.

sslater@jg.net