WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Two of the four anchor stores in the Wyoming Valley Mall will close in a few months, but the mall owner remains confident it can find quality retailers to replace them.
The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. announced Tuesday it was closing all of its 200-plus stores nationwide. That news was followed just two days later by Sears announcing it would close its Wyoming Valley Mall store and auto center.
The mall is owned by Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which owns or manages 21 malls in the Mid-Atlantic, South and Great Lakes regions.
On Wednesday, PREIT officials said they were already in discussions with several possible tenants to replace Bon-Ton. Reached Thursday after the Sears news broke, a spokesperson said the company was meeting regarding that development.
Amanda Hoprich, marketing director for PREIT at the Viewmont Mall and Wyoming Valley Mall, offered a brief statement Friday on the situation.
”As the retail landscape continues to evolve, PREIT continues to see opportunity in replacing department stores,” Hoprich said. “We are working with several tenants that span a variety of uses and retail concepts.”
Hoprich said PREIT has had much success in replacing retail anchor stores. As a prime example, she pointed to what happened after Sears left the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City in 2016.
“With just a 16-month turnaround to opening Dick’s Sporting Goods and Field & Stream, we were (also) the first to market HomeGoods,” Hoprich said of how her company replaced Sears.
Hoprich went on to say that PREIT is already in negotiations with several potential tenants, but she did not reveal which ones, nor when an announcement would come.
Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said Thursday the company told its associates it had made “the difficult, but necessary decision to close the Sears store and Sears Auto Center in Wilkes-Barre.”
The store will close to the public in mid-July and the Sears Auto Center in mid-May. Until then, they will remain open for customers. The store will begin its liquidation sale April 27.
At Bon-Ton, meanwhile, its going-out-of-business sale has already started.
There are two Bon-Ton stores in Luzerne County — at the Wyoming Valley Mall and at the Midway Shopping Center in Wyoming.
Bon-Ton’s stores, e-commerce and mobile platforms are open and serving customers. The liquidation sales are expected to run for approximately 10 to 12 weeks.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.