||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (February 2009)|
|Founded||1890 in Peoria, Illinois|
|Number of locations||13 (2011)|
|Products||Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, housewares|
Bergner's is a major department store in central and northern Illinois, established in 1889 in Peoria, Illinois, and offering mid-line to higher end merchandise in their largest stores. The current flagship store is located in Peoria at The Shoppes at Grande Prairie.
Bergner's was founded in downtown Peoria in 1889 by Peter Alan Bergner. The famous red stone building housed six floors that included a tea room, a millinery, a cobbler, and its famous Fine China department. The store stood on the corner of Adams at Fulton streets across from the then rival, Block & Kuhl Company.
In 1957, a second Peoria Bergner's location was open at the then-suburban Sheridan Village Shopping Center. Between 1961 and 1973, the Bergner's location at Sheridan Village sold the most merchandise per square foot of any department store in the United States. This Bergner's was the largest department store in Illinois outside of the Chicago area. During the 1970s, the chain opened several suburban locations of smaller size in target markets, including stores in Pekin, Bloomington, Decatur, Champaign, Galesburg, Quincy and Peru. During the 1970s, Bergner's opened a new concept budget store (formatted after the original bargain basement downtown store) in the Madison Park Shopping Center in Peoria. Not expanding on this concept, the Madison Park Store was closed in the late 1980s.
In April 2003, after the four-year process of the "Shoppes at Grand Prairie" lifestyle center development, Bergner's opened a new location serving as their flagship and it is the largest department store south of Chicago and North of St. Louis.
Mergers & Acquisitions
The late 1970s and 1980s saw change for Bergner's. It acquired the eight stores of Myers Brothers Company of Springfield, Illinois, in 1978. In 1985, Bergner's acquired Boston Store and all of its department stores in Wisconsin along with three Gimbel's locations. In 1989, P.A. Bergner bought Chicago's Carson Pirie Scott for over $450 million. Carson's itself had just bought Minneapolis-based Donaldson's in November 1987. With this, Bergner's was a major Midwestern presence, with stores in five states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, and Iowa, operating under the Bergner's, Carson Pirie Scott, and Boston Store names.
P.A. Bergner would own the store until his death in the mid-1920s. His son owned the company until his suicide in 1938 in Henry, Illinois.
Maus Frères SA, based in Geneva, Switzerland, acquired the company after the younger Bergner's death and gave the store its unique red logo of six hexagons, an emblem Bergner's now shares with five corporate siblings as well as two current Maus subsidiaries.
The downtown Peoria store would remain in service to the community until the mid-1980s.
In 2000 the store was knocked down to make way for the One Technology Plaza. In memory to the long history of Bergner's to that location, the cornerstone of the red rock building is still on display outside the entrance to the college.
Bankruptcy and acquisition by Proffitt's
Proffitt's Inc., (now Saks Incorporated), bought the company in 1998 and named the purchased group of stores the Northern Department Store group internally; its purchase increased the northern presence of the Saks company.
Sale to The Bon-Ton
In July 2005, Saks completed the sale of its Southern Department Store Group consisting of Proffitt's and McRae's to Charlotte, North Carolina-based Belk, Inc. On October 31, 2005, Saks announced that it was selling Bergner's and its other Northern Department Store Group stores (Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers, Boston Store, and Herberger's) to Bon-Ton Stores in a $1.1 billion deal. The transaction was completed on March 6, 2006. As of 2006[update], the Bergner's name is used at 14 locations, all in Illinois.
- Carson Pirie Scott - more information about corporate activity
- Bergner's - official site and shopping site
- The Bon-Ton to Acquire 142 stores from Saks Incorporated for $1.1 billion in cash — Purchase announcement from October 31, 2005