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Number of locations
formerly, 51 department stores
|Products||Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, housewares|
Carson Pirie Scott & Co. (also known as Carson's) is an online retailer founded in 1854 as an American department store, which grew to over 50 locations, primarily in the Midwestern United States. Sold to the holding company of Bon-Ton in 2006, but still operated under the Carson name, the entire Bon-Ton collection of stores, including Carson's went into bankruptcy and closed in 2018. BonTon's intellectual property was quickly sold while in bankruptcy, and the new owners reopened almost immediately as online retail.
The Carson Pirie Scott name is strongly associated with the historic Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building designed by Louis Sullivan, built in 1899 for the retail firm Schlesinger & Mayer, and expanded and sold to Carson Pirie Scott in 1904, and occupied by them for more than a century.
The chain began in 1854 when Scotsmen Samuel Carson and John Pirie first clerked in the Murray's dry goods store in Peru, Illinois - then opened their own store in LaSalle followed by one in Amboy. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed 60% of the store's stock. In 1961, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. greatly expanded in Illinois by purchasing the 20 unit Block & Kuhl chain headquartered in Peoria.
John Edwin Scott operated a dry goods store in Ottawa, Illinois. He later moved up to Chicago and became the first partner of Samuel Carson and John T. Pirie in the ownership of a dry goods store, well known today as Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Two of John Scott's sons, Robert L. and Frederick H., were members of the department store firm.
In 1980, to diversify its business, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. borrowed $108 million to buy Dobbs Houses, Inc., an airline caterer and owner of the Toddle House and Steak 'n Egg Kitchen restaurant chains. These were sold in 1988, as was the County Seat clothing chain.
In 1991, P.A. Bergner & Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; upon emerging from bankruptcy in 1993, it became a NASDAQ publicly traded company, changing its operating name to Carson Pirie Scott & Co. One year later, the company commenced trading on the NYSE under the CRP symbol.
Acquisition by Proffitt's/Saks
By 1998, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. ownership was held by Proffitt's, Inc., (later renamed Saks Incorporated to reflect the acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue). The Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner's, and Boston Store chains, along with Younkers and Herberger's nameplates, eventually operated as Saks' Northern Department Store Group (NDSG), based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In late 2005, however, the group was put up for sale as Saks Incorporated tried to refocus itself primarily on its core Saks Fifth Avenue stores.
Sale to The Bon-Ton and store closings
Bon-Ton converted Elder-Beerman stores in Indiana and Michigan to the newly shortened Carson's name in 2011 and 2012. The chain expanded into Metro Detroit in 2013 with the conversion of three Parisian stores.
Bon-Ton announced on April 17, 2018 that they would cease operations and began liquidating all 267 stores after two liquidators, Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, won an auction for the company. The bid was estimated to be worth $775.5 million. This included all remaining Carson's stores after 164 years of operation. According to national retail reporter Mitch Nolen, stores closed within 10 to 12 weeks.
Reopened as online retail
The intellectual property of Bon-Ton, including Carson's, was quickly sold in bankruptcy and online retail was reopened. The new owners, based in Indianapolis, Indiana were also exploring opening new store locations.
- "The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Files.shareholder.com. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- Zumbach, Lauren (September 21, 2018). "Carson's joins retailers seeking life after liquidation with online revival and bricks-and-mortar aspirations". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2006-03-08.
- "Charlotte: Search Results". nl.newsbank.com. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- "Elder-Beerman stores in Monroe swap name". Toledoblade.com. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- "Bon-Ton Stores to close (report)". syracuse.com. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
- "Liquidators to wind down US department store chain Bon-Ton". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- Siry, Joseph M. Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988. ISBN 0-226-76136-3
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