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Bon-Ton to close its stores in Steeplegate Mall

  • The east entrance of the Steeplegate Mall in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • The Bon-Ton store sits at the far end of the Steeplegate Mall on a quiet evening in May 2016. The two Bon-Ton locations in the mall are among more than 40 closing amid the retailer’s restructuring, dealing another blow to the beleaguered Concord shopping center. AP file

  • A couple walks down the main walkway at the Steeplegate Mall Monday afternoon in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER

  • A nearly empty food court at the Steeplegate Mall in Concord, N.H.. Illustrates MALL (category f) by Matt Townsend (c) 2014, Bloomberg News. Moved Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 (MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg News photo by Matt Townsend). TOWNSEND



Monitor staff
Thursday, February 01, 2018

In a major blow to the Steeplegate Mall, Bon-Ton will be shutting its two stores, which are major anchors in the struggling retail center.

The company said it was closing 42 stores in 14 states as part of a continued restructuring. Like many retailers, Bon-Ton has seen its sales fall sharply with the rise of online shopping.

Hilco Merchant Resources, a liquidator firm, will manage the store closing sales, which will run for “approximately 10 to 12 weeks,” the company said.

The 480,000-square-foot Steeplegate defaulted on its loans in 2014 and was taken over by the bank, then sold to a New York retail-property firm in 2016 for $10.3 million, one-eighth of its valuation just two years earlier.

In its heyday in 2008, the mall was valued at $83 million. The fight over its assessed value reached a tipping point in 2013 when its owners argued it was worth only $35 million. As more tenants moved out, that figure dropped to $15 million.

Bon-Ton technically has two stores in Steeplegate: One focused on men’s clothing and home goods, the other on women’s fashion. Their closure leaves Sears and JCPenney as the two remaining anchors; both those chains are struggling with debt and low sales and have closed some stores nationally, but the stores in Concord were spared.

More recently, Charlotte Russe and Olympia Sports announced they are closing their stores at Steeplegate as well.

The mall industry is trying to replace fading brick-and-mortar stores with more experience-related establishments. In recent years Steeplegate has added a bounce-house party store and Hatbox Theatre, a venue for live performances.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)