MADISON, Wis. — Boston Stores and Younkers department stores may soon be a thing of the retail past.

Reuters, citing sources, is reporting Tuesday that Bon-Ton Stores, a bankrupt chain of regional department stores, will go out of business after the only bidders competing at the Monday start of its court-supervised auction were liquidators.

The status of the Bergner's store at Eastland Mall, Bloomington, is unclear. Bon-Ton also owns that chain of stores that also are located in Forsyth, Peoria, Pekin, Springfield and Champaign in Central Illinois.

Bon-Ton, founded in 1898, operates 260 stores in 24 states and had been hoping to sell to U.S. mall owners Namdar Realty Group and Washington Prime Group to secure a bid that would have kept many of its locations open, Reuters reported.

If Bon-Ton is shuttered, it would be a major blow to its employees and to retail centers around the state. Bon-Ton operates 13 stores in Wisconsin and employs 2,255 people, including more than 700 at its Milwaukee headquarters.

Other stores operated by Bon-Ton are under the Bon-Ton, Carson's, Elder- Beerman and Herberger's names, but most of its stores have histories that predate the parent company. Boston Store, for example, was founded in 1897, and Younkers in 1856.

Reuters reported Tuesday that money raised from the auction will be used to repay what is owed to Bon-Ton’s creditors. Once the company selects a winning bidder and the proposed deal is approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, the liquidator can begin selling the inventory, store leases, fixtures and intellectual property.

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