Earlier this month, Bon-Ton sent notices to several states warning of potential job losses from store closures if it was forced to liquidate.
Bon-Ton had been working with a group of investors including two mall developers on a going-concern bid.
As of late Monday, the auction had not concluded, according to four sources.
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.
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It appears the end is near for Bon-Ton.
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.
Earlier this month, Bon-Ton notified state officials that it planned to begin layoffs at the Younkers store at the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls in June.
Reuters reported Tuesday that money raised from the auction will be used to repay what is owed to Bon-Ton's creditors.
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Bon-Ton, a bankrupt chain of 200 regional department stores with almost 20,000 employees, had been working with USA mall owners Namdar Realty Group and Washington Prime Group, Inc.to secure a bid that would have kept open a large portion of Bon-Ton locations. Boston Store, for example, was founded in 1897, and Younkers in 1856.
But many storied retailers have struggled amid the current industry disruption from low-margin discounters such as Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and the increasing popularity of online shopping, dominated by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).
If it does go out of business, it would be the second big-box chain to close Lincoln stores this year.
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