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Industry Retail
Founded 1854
Headquarters Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Number of locations
50 (June 2014)[1]
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, housewares
Parent The Bon-Ton

Carson's, (formerly Carson Pirie Scott and Co.) is a chain of department stores that have been in business for over 150 years. Their product price points are targeted to the moderate-to-upscale shopper. The majority of the stores are located in the Chicago metropolitan area, with over 40 stores under the nameplate. Stores are also operated in parts of Indiana including northwest Indiana, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, along with Michigan.

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. The building, located on State Street in Chicago's Loop, housed the chain's flagship store for more than a century before closing for good on February 21, 2007.



Carson's previous logo used between 1946 through 1978.
Carson's Logo used between 1978 through the early 1990s. In later years, the boxes would be dropped and a "red flower" would appear next to it.
Carson Pirie Scott's last logo before the name was shortened to Carson's.

The chain began in 1854 when Samuel Carson opened a dry goods store in Amboy, Illinois, after he left Ireland. 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, Illinois.

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 1989, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. was acquired by P.A. Bergner & Co. (founded in Peoria, Illinois), who operated the Bergner's, Charles V. Weise, Myers Brothers and Boston Store chains.


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[edit]

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[edit]

Carson's and its associated stores became part of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. in a $1.1 billion deal completed on March 6, 2006.[2] The group's merchandising and marketing base remains in Milwaukee.

On August 25, 2006, the CEO of Bon-Ton announced that the landmark Carson Pirie Scott store in downtown Chicago would close after the 2006 holiday season. The Carson's store closed February 21, 2007.[3] There is now a Target store on the building's lower floors.

Bon-Ton converted Elder-Beerman stores in Indiana and Michigan to the newly shortened Carson's name in 2011 and 2012.[4][5] The chain expanded into Metro Detroit in 2013 with the conversion of three Parisian stores.[6]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Siry, Joseph M. Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988. ISBN 0-226-76136-3

External links[edit]