OmahaWorldHerald

Younkers leaves big shoes to fill at Omaha’s Westroads, Oak View Malls

By Paige Yowell

Younkers’ demise will leave a hole in Omaha’s retail scene for many people looking for shirts, dresses and cosmetics all in one place.

But Omaha’s indoor malls may be feeling the greatest loss from the department stores’ departure: When the Younkers stores close, what will take their place?

People in the real estate and retail businesses say the loss of an anchor store like Younkers at shopping centers across the country — including at Westroads and Oak View Malls in Omaha — will present a challenge for landlords in an environment where it’s more common to hear of a retail chain declaring bankruptcy than it is to hear about one expanding.

Younkers’ parent company, Bon-Ton Stores Inc., declared bankruptcy in February. Liquidation sales already have begun, and stores are expected to close in the coming months.

Those plugged into Omaha’s retail scene say the loss of the stores will likely hit Oak View Mall hardest. The mall hasn’t seen the same improvements Westroads has and has lost more stores than it has gained over the past few years.

General Growth Properties, a Chicago-based real estate trust, owns both Omaha malls.

The loss of an anchor can send malls spiraling, as the anchors often bring in foot traffic and customers who then shop at other stores in the mall.

Oak View’s occupancy rate in 2016 was about 85 percent, a figure that’s considered weak in the industry. Among General Growth’s malls nationally, Oak View had one of the lowest occupancy rates. General Growth owns more than 120 malls across the U.S.

Westroads, on the other hand, had an occupancy rate of 98 percent, according to General Growth’s latest annual report, from 2016.

General Growth didn’t respond to requests for comment from The World-Herald about its Omaha properties. Westroads Senior General Manager Jim Sadler declined to comment.

Complicating matters: Westroadsdoesn’t even own the Younkers space. Instead, the land and building are owned by Realty Trust Group of Lincoln. The firm has owned the property since at least the early 1980s, said Robert Weigel, the firm’s president.

Weigel said in an interview that his company saw the writing on the wall with Younkers and has a plan in place to repurpose the Westroads space with new retail tenants. He said he was unable to discuss what specific retailer might take the space, citing confidentiality agreements with potential tenants.

Weigel said he expects to split the space up and lease it to other retailers.

“Retail is what it always has been, and basically what I think it should be,” Weigel said.

General Growth “doesn’t want to see it vacant, either,” Weigel said. “But I haven’t talked to them about it. We’ve got our contingency plans in order.”

Weigel said he has a good relationship with General Growth, which bought Westroads in 1997, but his firm has traded jabs with the mall’s owners and its tenants over the decades.

Realty Trust Group sued in 1998 over construction of the new Jones Store at the old Montgomery Ward site. Jones’ owner, May Department Stores, sought permission to tear down the old Montgomery Ward auto bay to make way for more parking. Weigel protested with a lawsuit, saying it was illegal for May to demolish a building on property it didn’t own. He lost the suit. Younkers relocated to the property after the Jones Store closed in 2004.

His firm also tried to block construction of the Von Maur store and construction of the Cheesecake Factory at Westroads, saying Von Maur would adversely affect sales at Montgomery Ward and, later, that Cheesecake Factory would adversely affect customers of Younkers. Both plans eventually prevailed.

Weigel also owns several properties along O Street in Lincoln, including one that was recently redeveloped to include a Fresh Thyme grocery store and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. His firm also owned a shuttered Hy-Vee at 70th and O Streets in Lincoln that was eventually converted into a Best Buy store. He said his firm owns property in Florida as well.

He said he and his wife had been customers of Younkers over the decades and he’s sad to see it go.

“You hate to see a bankruptcy or liquidation,” Weigel said. “It’s sad; it’s sad for the operators and for the customers.”

Regardless, Westroads is well-positioned to attract another retailer or use for the site, said Trenton Magid, executive vice president of NAI NP Dodge and a member of the Omaha Planning Board. The Younkers store there has West Dodge Road frontage, and General Growth has invested in the mall with renovations, a new food hall and additions like The Container Store and H&M.

For Oak View, Younkers’ departure could spell trouble. The mall already has seen many retailers leave, due to bankruptcy or downsizing. Some malls also have lease clauses that allow for other retailers within the mall to pay a lower rent if an anchor closes, Magid said.

“I question the current ownership’s long-term plans,” Magid said. “It doesn’t seem like General Growth is investing in Oak View like they’re investing in Westroads. At the end of the day, if there’s a last mall standing, it’s going to be Westroads.”

Jeff Green, a partner at Lincoln-based retail site-selection firm Jerry Hoffman Strategy Group, agreed.

“Anybody in our industry recognizes that is not a long-term location, so how can they lease it?” Green said of Oak View. “They’re not going to be able to,” at least not to a retailer, he said.

Any retailers eyeing the Boys Town West Farm mixed-use development under construction near 144th Street and West Dodge Road would likely be looking at Westroads’ Younkers space, Green said. Westroads has the ability to pull customers from the entire Omaha area and as far as Lincoln.

“That’s the strongest retail magnet in town, so why not go there?” he said.

Nordstrom Rack, for example, has been eyeing the Omaha market, Green said. A portion of the Younkers store at Westroads could be a good home for the off-price department store chain, he said. (A Nordstrom Rack spokeswoman told The World-Herald that it had no “current plans” to open in Omaha.)

Meanwhile, some malls across the country have seen large anchor spaces repurposed into entertainment or services uses, Magid said, like bowling alleys, paintball courses and gyms. Either way, it will be a costly challenge to split up the 150,000- to 175,000-square-feet spaces, Magid said.

Younkers also has one store in Lincoln, at Gateway Mall, and operates several department stores under the Herberger’s nameplate in Norfolk, Hastings, Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

As for Younkers customers, Green said Dillard’s and J.C. Penney are likely to see more business from those who shopped at Younkers, but those chains, too, have faced financial trouble over the years.

So has Sears, which “has been on oxygen” for years, Green said. But what will become of the decades-old department store chains still will take a while to shake out, he said. He said he expects Macy’s, which doesn’t operate in Omaha and is similar to Younkers, to continue closing stores.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers have had a rough couple of years. Many, including the Omaha-founded Gordmans department store chain, Toys R Us, Claire’s, Payless Shoe Source, The Limited and others have declared bankruptcy within the past two years.

The retailing world is under pressure from online-only sellers like Amazon but also from customers, whose shopping habits have changed. Customers instead are flocking to off-price chains like T.J. Maxx and Burlington and spending more of their dollars on experiences, like dining out and traveling.

Retailers also have had to rely more and more on discounts and sales to get people into their stores, cutting into profits.

Some companies, like Gordmans, were spared from an all-out liquidation when other buyers (in Gordmans’ case, Stage Stores) stepped in to buy some of the stores. Stage still closed almost all of the Gordmans locations in the Omaha area.

So far, 2018 isn’t looking much better, with Toys R Us and Younkers both unable to find buyers willing to continue running some or all of their stores, said Corali Lopez-Castro, a managing shareholder of the KozyakTropin Throckmorton law firm in Miami who specializes in retail bankruptcies.

“Unless there’s a fundamental change in their businesses, we’re going to see more retail bankruptcies,” Lopez-Castro said. Now that requires a good in-store experience with a highly complementary online presence, she said.

Retail bankruptcies also are more likely to head to liquidation because liquidation firms can make a hefty profit on selling the stores’ inventory — in Younkers’ case, handbags, shoes, shirts, dresses and cosmetics.

“That’s the problem with these retail bankruptcies, that many times, the inventory itself is worth more” than running the company as a going concern, Lopez-Castro said.

While many people might be feeling nostalgic and upset over the loss of Younkers and other Bon-Ton stores, “that feeling is based on your age,” said Green, the retail site-selection consultant. “Because people under 40 weren’t shopping at Younkers, anyway. That’s part of the problem.”

Click here for the original article.

Toys R Us stores are slashing prices on Apple products as the toy giant prepares to shutter or sell all 735 locations across the US

By Kate Taylor Read more

Toys R Us gift cards will expire in 30 days

By Hayley Peterson

  • Toys R Us said its gift cards will expire in 30 days as the company prepares to close or sell all its US stores.
  • The toy chain’s loyalty-based “rewards dollars” and “endless earnings” will also expire in 30 days, the company told Business Insider.
  • If customers don’t use their gift cards and loyalty points within 30 days, the rewards will lose their value.
  • When Borders began liquidating its stores in July 2011, about 17.7 million gift cards were left outstanding.
  • Customers filed a lawsuit to recoup their losses, but a judge ruled that the gift cards — worth an estimated $210.5 million — would not be refunded.

Toys R Us said Thursday that its gift cards will expire in 30 days as the company prepares to close or sell its more than 700 US stores.

If shoppers don’t use their gift cards by the expiration date, then the cards will lose their value. The toy chain’s loyalty-based “rewards dollars” and “endless earnings” will also expire in 30 days, the company told Business Insider.

Toys R Us said in a bankruptcy filing Thursday that it must liquidate. Gift card holders are now among a vast group of creditors — including Toys R Us suppliers — that will be looking to get paid back through the liquidation process.

“To say the vultures are circling is probably an understatement,” said Larry Perkins, the CEO and founder of the advisory firm SierraConstellation Partners. “It’s highly unlikely that there will be any meaningful piece of the business that remains,” after a liquidation, he said.

Shoppers often fail to recoup the money left on unused gift cards during retail bankruptcies.

When Borders began liquidating its stores in July 2011, about 17.7 million gift cards were left outstanding. Several customers filed a lawsuit to recoup their losses, but a judge ruled that the gift cards— worth an estimated $210.5 million — would not be refunded.

Oftentimes, retailers that are liquidating will publicly announce a deadline by which shoppers must use their gift cards.

Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September and recently started clearance sales at about 170 stores that it plans to permanently close in April.

Going-out-of-business sales at Toys R Us stores will likely begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at Kozyak Tropin and Throckmorton.

“Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out,” Lopez-Castro told Business Insider in an interview last week.

Click here for the original article.

Your Toys R Us Gift Cards Could End Up Being Worthless, Experts Say

By: Meagan Friedman

If you have a few bucks left over on a Toys R Us gift card, don’t wait until the next big birthday or holiday to redeem it. Depending on the results of a bankruptcy hearing this week, the iconic toy-store chain might be closing all of its stores in the United States — and eventually that gift card might be worthless, Business Insider reports.

Toys R Us hasn’t commented on the possibility of going out of business, let alone the state of its gift cards. But according to the report, when past chain stores have closed, some customers have been left with gift cards that lost their value, like when Borders closed in 2011. Other times, when stores have closed, the companies would give customers a deadline for using the gift cards before they lose value. So the safe bet is to use that gift card now, or at least take advantage of the massive going-out-of-business sales that may be coming.

Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at KozyakTropin and Throckmorton, told Business Insider that if Toys R Us plans to go out of business, stores could be closed within weeks. “Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out,” she told the site. Store closings are already happening in the U.K., the BBC reports.

CBS News reports that the gift card issue hasn’t yet been worked out, but what is certain is that if the liquidation takes place, it would mean the largest retail layoff since 2015, and up to 33,000 workers could lose their jobs.

Click here for the original article.

Toys R Us calls it quits: Company plans to shutter or sell every store in the U.S.

The extinction of Toys R Us has begun. The iconic and financially ailing retail giant announced it would begin to shutter or sell every store in the U.S. market. Toys R Us officials broke the news to their employees on Wednesday, a message that also threatens up to 33,000 American jobs in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Toys R Us could close all 800 of its US stores – and blowout clearance sales could begin in a matter of weeks

By: Hayley Peterson

  • Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores as part of a liquidation, according to several reports.
  • Blowout clearance sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according toCorali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at KozyakTropin and Throckmorton.

Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores after weak holiday sales thwarted its plans to restructure the business through bankruptcy proceedings, according to several media reports.

That means blowout liquidation sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at KozyakTropin and Throckmorton.

If the event of a liquidation, “Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out,” Lopez-Castro said.

The longer the stores stay open, the more rent Toys R Us will owe to its landlords.

The company would only need a few weeks to heavily advertise the sales before kicking them off, she said.

Toys R Us could announce whether it will liquidate its stores as soon as Monday following a bankruptcy hearing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September and recently started clearance sales at about 170 stores that it plans to permanently close in April.

The company has been shedding sales in large part due to growing competition from online retailers like Amazon.

“Brick-and-mortar stores are just getting bludgeoned to death by e-commerce,” Lopez-Castro said. “I don’t think people will miss Toys R Us” if it goes out of business “because everything you can get at Toys R Us, you can get online.”

Click here for the original article.

Toys “R” Us May Close All Of Its US Stores, & That Could Be Bad News For Parents

By: Josie Rhodes Cook

Bad news, parents. There are some reports that Toys “R” Us may close all of its U.S. stores, after holiday sales failed to help the toy retailer bounce back from filing for bankruptcy in the fall. Right now, the only thing that’s certain is that Toys “R” Us Inc. is preparing to liquidate its bankrupt United States operations after failing to find a buyer or reach a debt restructuring deal with lenders, according to Bloomberg. But experts say the future of the popular toy store looks bleak.

Taylor O’Donnell, a Coordinator for Corporate Communications at Toys “R” Us, tells Romper via email on Friday, “We do not have a comment to share at this time.”

Toys “R” Us is preparing to potentially close all U.S. stores following weak holiday sales, according to Business Insider. And that means blowout liquidation sales at all of the company’s roughly 800 stores could begin within weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at KozyakTropin and Throckmorton who spoke with Business Insider. And while that might sound like good news to parents and families in the short term (yay! toy sales!), the closing of Toys “R” Us could have a ripple effect that could damage the toy industry and change the way toys are sold forever, and that’s not-so-great news.

Sources told CNBC that Toys “R” Us may soon liquidate its U.S. operations, but at least one person cautioned that “the situation remains fluid,” so it’s really anyone’s guess what could happen next. But in general, if sales and expectations haven’t bounced for the company yet, it’s not looking good for the stores’ future, and the little girl in me who used to eagerly look through Toys “R” Us catalogs as a kid is a bit devastated, to be honest.

If Toys “R” Us Inc. does move forward with liquidating, Lopez-Castro told Business Insider that, “Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out.” The outlet reported that the longer the stores remain open, the more rent Toys “R” Us will owe to its landlords — and that wouldn’t be a smart move or at all sustainable for a company that owed debt to the tune of $5.2 billion in September, according to Reuters.

But CNBC noted that Toys “R” Us “accounted for 15 to 20 percent of U.S. toy sales last year,” and if the retailer does close all of its stores here in the States, those toy sales won’t all be absorbed by other retailers in the aftermath. In fact, around 10 to 15 percent of that volume of sales would simply “fall through the cracks and be lost for good,” the outlet reported.

A lot of products would shift to being sold through channels like Amazon or Target instead, so it’s not as if parents need to panic over not being able to find toys easily just yet. But toy giants like Hasbro and Mattel are even nervous, and they’ve got a lot more power than small toy brands, which could be in trouble.

The way CNBC explained it, because Toys “R” Us is so massive, it can sell both name-brand toys and products from smaller, less commercially successful toymakers. But if Toys “R” Us closes, other big-box retailers probably won’t take in those smaller brands because they already have limited space in toy sections. So small toy manufacturers will have more trouble succeeding, and that’s a shame for kids everywhere who would miss out on the creativity and innovation of more small-scale designers and inventors. Not everyone can turn to Shark Tank, after all.

The closure of all U.S. Toys “R” Us locations could be either good or bad for more suburban or rural communities where Toys “R” Us may be the only game in town when it comes to toy stores. There’s a chance that smaller, independent toy stores could pop up in their wake. Or there’s a chance that for parents with limited options, online shopping may become their only choice.

Nothing is set in stone yet. We know for sure that several U.S. Toys “R” Us stores have closed, or will close soon. But as far as the news that every store in the U.S. could shutter, that’s still based mostly on sources, and I suppose there’s a chance a buyer could swoop in at the 11th hour and save Toys “R” Us. But if that doesn’t happen, we might have to say goodbye to Toys “R” Us forever. It could truly be the end of an era for a lot of people who grew up loving the toy retailer.

Click here for the original article.

Toys R Us could close all 800 of its US stores – and blowout clearance sales could begin in a matter of weeks

By Hayley Peterson

  • Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores as part of a liquidation, according to several reports.
  • Blowout clearance sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at KozyakTropin and Throckmorton.

Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores after weak holiday sales thwarted its plans to restructure the business through bankruptcy proceedings, according to several media reports.

That means blowout liquidation sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at KozyakTropin and Throckmorton.

If the event of a liquidation, “Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out,” Lopez-Castro said.

The longer the stores stay open, the more rent Toys R Us will owe to its landlords.

The company would only need a few weeks to heavily advertise the sales before kicking them off, she said.

Toys R Us could announce whether it will liquidate its stores as soon as Monday following a bankruptcy hearing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September and recently started clearance sales at about 170 stores that it plans to permanently close in April.

The company has been shedding sales in large part due to growing competition from online retailers like Amazon.

“Brick-and-mortar stores are just getting bludgeoned to death by e-commerce,” Lopez-Castro said. “I don’t think people will miss Toys R Us” if it goes out of business “because everything you can get at Toys R Us, you can get online.”

Click here for the original article.

Toys R Us could close all 800 of its US stores – and blowout clearance sales could begin in a matter of weeks

By Hayley Peterson

 Toys R Us could close all 800 of its US stores – BI

  • Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores as part of a liquidation, according to several reports.
  • Blowout clearance sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at Kozyak Tropin and Throckmorton.

Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores after weak holiday sales thwarted its plans to restructure the business through bankruptcy proceedings, according to several media reports.

That means blowout liquidation sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at Kozyak Tropin and Throckmorton.

If the event of a liquidation, “Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out,” Lopez-Castro said.

The longer the stores stay open, the more rent Toys R Us will owe to its landlords.

The company would only need a few weeks to heavily advertise the sales before kicking them off, she said.

Toys R Us could announce whether it will liquidate its stores as soon as Monday following a bankruptcy hearing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September and recently started clearance sales at about 170 stores that it plans to permanently close in April.

The company has been shedding sales in large part due to growing competition from online retailers like Amazon.

“Brick-and-mortar stores are just getting bludgeoned to death by e-commerce,” Lopez-Castro said. “I don’t think people will miss Toys R Us” if it goes out of business “because everything you can get at Toys R Us, you can get online.”

Click here for the original article.

Toys R Us could close all 800 of its US stores – and blowout clearance sales could begin in a matter of weeks

By Hayley Peterson

  • Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores as part of a liquidation, according to several reports.
  • Blowout clearance sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at Kozyak Tropin and Throckmorton.

Toys R Us is preparing to potentially close all of its US stores after weak holiday sales thwarted its plans to restructure the business through bankruptcy proceedings, according to several media reports. 

That means blowout liquidation sales at its roughly 800 stores could begin within a matter of weeks, according to Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer and managing partner at Kozyak Tropin and Throckmorton. 

If the event of a liquidation, “Toys R Us is not going to want to drag this out,” Lopez-Castro said. 

The longer the stores stay open, the more rent Toys R Us will owe to its landlords. 

The company would only need a few weeks to heavily advertise the sales before kicking them off, she said. 

Toys R Us could announce whether it will liquidate its stores as soon as Monday following a bankruptcy hearing, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September and recently started clearance sales at about 170 stores that it plans to permanently close in April. 

The company has been shedding sales in large part due to growing competition from online retailers like Amazon. 

“Brick-and-mortar stores are just getting bludgeoned to death by e-commerce,” Lopez-Castro said. “I don’t think people will miss Toys R Us” if it goes out of business “because everything you can get at Toys R Us, you can get online.”

Click here for the original article.