Bon-Ton had been working with property owners Washington Prime Group and Namdar Realty Group to buy the company out of bankruptcy and continue operating some of the stores. Boston Store, for example, was founded in 1897, and Younkers in 1856.
The company has headquarters in York, Pennsylvania, and Milwauke, Wisconsin.
The company has 14 Herberger's stores in Minnesota, including at the Kandi Mall in Willmar, Rosedale and Southdale, and in St. Paul, Bloomington, Blaine and Stillwater.
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Bon-Ton employed 550 people within a 30-mile radius of the Lehigh Valley as recently as September 2016, but a more updated headcount has not been provided.
"They're going to want to do something to attract those (lost Boston Store) customers", O'Brien said.
Bon-Ton operates two Younkers stores in Omaha at Oak View and Westroads Malls and one at Gateway Mall in Lincoln. But that potential bid came with several contingencies, including a request that the court approve a $500,000 "work fee" to cover the group's expenses as it prepared a formal bid.
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The CEO told ABC News on Monday that store managers will also go through training in an effort to fight " unconscious bias ". Yaffe runs a real estate development firm and wanted to discuss business investment opportunities with the two men .
A Bon-Ton spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time.
Bon Ton, which has owned Younkers since 2005, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February.
The only bidders competing in the auction are liquidators, according to the sources. In addition, NY firm Reorg Research, which covers distressed debt, among other issues, reported that only two bids - both from liquidators - were going forward in the auction, which resumed Tuesday morning.
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Bon-Ton has more than 22,000 employees and 254 stores in the U.S. The company's store lines also include Carson's, Bergner's and Bon-Ton. Toy's "R" Us also filed for bankruptcy later a year ago. Mountain Development Corporation, which is based in New Jersey, co-owns the mall.