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One of York County's longest-running employers is on its way to closure after a group of liquidators submitted the winning bid in The Bon-Ton Stores' bankruptcy auction.

The department store chain, with dual headquarters in York County and Wisconsin, announced in a news release that bankruptcy court will hold a hearing Wednesday, April 18, to approve the sale and wind-down of the company's operations.

"While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern, we are committed to working constructively with the winning bidder to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations that minimizes the impact of this development on our associates, customers, vendors and the communities we serve," Bon-Ton President and CEO Bill Tracy said in the release.

"We are incredibly grateful to all of our associates for their dedicated service to Bon-Ton and to our millions of loyal customers who we have had the pleasure to serve as their hometown store for more than 160 years," he said.

More: Reuters: Bon-Ton heading for liquidation

More: Bon-Ton receives letter of intent from potential buyer ahead of bankruptcy auction

The auction winners were a joint venture composed of Great American Group LLC and Tiger Capital Group LLC, according to the release.

Bon-Ton, which filed for bankruptcy in February, recently filed WARN notices with the state to close offices or stores in four Pennsylvania counties, including in York County, where 332 employees would be affected.

The company noted that more information regarding liquidation and going-out-of-business sales will be released once the court approves the sale.

Response: Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, said the news was sad in the sense of losing a legacy company with a nationwide brand synonymous with York, but retail remains a major part of the county's workforce — 12 percent of the county's total employment, according to the latest state report.

He pointed to announced openings of Marshall's and Gander Outdoors as positive retail news and potential companies that could help employ those who will be affected by Bon-Ton's closure.

Beyond the loss of employment, Bon-Ton's closure also will have a major impact on the philanthropic community in the county.

Bob Woods, longtime executive director of York County's United Way, said the company has been extremely generous to nonprofits in York and every community where it's  located.

More: Where there's a Woods, there's a United Way

"In terms of retail stores, no one really came close," Woods said of the company's donations and volunteer work.

Woods noted that many Bon-Ton employees have served and continue to serve on nonprofit boards and committees, including on the board for United Way.

"It's very sad news, and we thank them for what they've provided," he said.

History: The first store now operated by Bon-Ton opened in 1854, according to the company website. The Grumbacher family founded what became The Bon-Ton in York County in 1898, and its store at West Market and Beaver streets was a fixture in downtown York City for decades.

The company currently has store locations at the York Galleria in Springettsbury Township, Queensgate Shopping Center in York Township and on Eisenhower Road in Hanover.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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