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Department store chain gets local with in-store shop strategy


The Bon-Ton Stores is expanding an initiative that gives its network of stores a more local flavor.

The department store retailer will add "Close to Home in-store shops to at least 100 stores this year after a successful launch in 45 stores in fall 2016.

Open year round in-store and online, the "Close to Home" shops feature locally-sourced and themed products. From September through December, "Close to Home" shop sales more than doubled projections and the company expects continued growth in 2017, according to the Bon-Ton.

More than 100 small businesses from 16 cities across eight states were featured in the initial launch. While each "Close to Home" shop is unique to its community, most shops include locally-themed apparel; glassware, pillows, blankets and home décor; handbags, scarves and other accessories; natural candles, bath and body products; and other unique giftable items. Many products are hand-crafted or made with locally-sourced materials.

“Our regional merchandising teams carefully curated these shops to deliver customers a hometown shopping experience that reflects the tastes and buying preferences of our local communities," said Kathryn Bufano, president and CEO, The Bon-Ton Stores. "The 'Close to Home' shops have been a great opportunity for us to showcase local artisans and entrepreneurs and demonstrate our commitment to supporting the communities we serve."

As part of the expansion, the Bon-Ton also announced the launch of a "Close to Home" online sourcing fair that invites local artists and designers, makers, artisans, and entrepreneurs with established businesses and galleries interested in having their products sold in "Close to Home" shops to apply online.

Through the online fair, Bon-Ton plans to expand product offerings to include a broader selection of custom-designed and produced clothing and one-of-a-kind creations such as artwork, paintings, jewelry, décor and art objects crafted by local artists.

The Bon-Ton Stores operates 263 stores in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers nameplates.

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