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Herberger's closing ends an era that began in Osakis

The first Herberger's store opened in downtown Osakis in 1890 by brothers, George and Frank Herberger. (Photo courtesy of Douglas County Historical Society)

Herberger's stores throughout the country will be closing their doors soon.

Bon-Ton Inc. — the parent company of Herberger's — is going out of business after the company announced April 18 that the sale of its inventory and assets to liquidators was approved by a bankruptcy court.

The company, which previously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, operates more than 250 stores under a number of brands, including Herberger's, Younkers and Elder-Beerman.

Herberger's was founded in Minnesota, with its first store opening in Osakis in 1890. George F. Herberger, at the age of 19, along with his brother, Frank, opened the original Herberger's store in downtown Osakis, according to Douglas County Historical Society archives.

Shortly after, George F. purchased Frank's interest because Frank moved to Seattle, Washington. In 1927, the Herberger-Hart Company was founded by G. Robert "Bob" Herberger, son of George F. Herberger and he opened his first Herberger's store in St. Cloud.

A bankruptcy filing on April 18 listed 212 stores that will be closing. The Herberger's store at the Viking Plaza Mall in Alexandria was one of 20 Minnesota stores on the list.

Although no date has been given for when Herberger's will close its Alexandria store, the filing stated that all stores will close by Aug. 31, and the company expects the liquidation process to begin shortly in all stores.

Herberger's is the second staple in the Viking Plaza Mall to close. In February, the Alexandria J.C. Penney announced its closure. Its last day in business is May 12.

About 100 people are employed in the 70,000-square-foot Alexandria Herberger's location, according to Scot Snitker, national property manager with Lexington Realty International in Alexandria, which manages Viking Plaza.

While Bon-Ton is not profitable, Snitker says that Herberger's itself is. Since this is the case, he said that other companies could technically step in and offer to buy certain locations.

"Toys 'R' Us is the best example I can give," he said. "They're doing the same thing right now. Now that they filed and went through the auction, companies are coming in and saying,

'We want to buy these stores from you.'"

Unfortunately, he says, this is not looking like it will be the case in Alexandria.

"There's 15 ways this thing could go," Snitker said. "But obviously it doesn't look like it's going in the direction we would hope. ... The fate of it most likely is that Herberger's is gone."

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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