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Moorhead Herberger's to close Wednesday; Fargo location shuttered

Jason Margerum, foreground, and his father, Rich Margerum, pick up a table Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, that he purchased at the liquidation sale for the Moorhead Herberger's in Moorhead Center Mall. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum1 / 4
Jason Margerum, left, and his father, Rich Margerum, load a table into a van outside the Herberger's at Moorhead Center Mall on Monday morning, Aug. 27, 2018. The Moorhead Herberger's will close for business at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum2 / 4
Signs on the south doors of the Herberger's store at Fargo's West Acres mall announces that it is closed. The former anchor store ended its liquidation sale at the close of business Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum3 / 4
Signs advertise the final clearance price cuts for the liquidation of stock, furniture and fixtures at Herberger's in Moorhead Center Mall. The store will close for good at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum4 / 4

MOORHEAD — The Fargo Herberger's department store closed its doors for good Sunday, Aug. 26, and the Moorhead Herberger's will not be far behind.

The Moorhead store will end its clearance sales at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, putting the period on decades of service to Fargo-Moorhead area shoppers.

On Monday, a small but steady stream of customers wandered the Moorhead Center Mall store, browsing the last of the clothes and looking over furniture and fixtures, much of it discounted 70 to 90 percent or more.

Jason Margerum and his father, Rich Margerum, were loading a table and other items into a cargo van at the Moorhead store's north entrance.

"I just bought a new home. Trying to get some cheap furniture," Jason Margerum said. "And it's worked out well."

Penny Gronke has been the manager of the Moorhead store for 33 years.

"I feel very sad," Gronke said, looking out over the sales floor, now mostly emptied of merchandise after months of clearance sales. "It's been my whole whole adult life so far," she said of the job.

"I feel for my employees," Gronke added. "I could say more, but I'd probably cry."

The Fargo store ended its sales Sunday, store manager Sarah Egel confirmed.

About 20 employees were cleaning the former West Acres anchor store on Monday, tossing unused fixtures into a large rolloff dumpster in the west parking lot.

Over the lunch hour, a stack of pizza boxes and a half-eaten sheet cake were left from an impromptu goodbye party.

At the south entrance of the more than 100,000-square-foot Fargo store, a few cars, pickups and vans stopped as customers picked up the last of their fixture purchases.

Egel declined to say more, referring further questions to a representative of the firm in charge of the store's liquidation. That man also declined to comment.

Niki Larson, marketing manager for West Acres, said Monday that she didn't know what was planned to replace Herberger's

Bon-Ton, the parent company of Herberger's, Younkers and 200 other regional department stores, confirmed it would go out of business with its bankruptcy filing in mid-April of this year.

The company had 14 Herberger's and two Younkers stores in Minnesota. It also had four Herberger's stores in North Dakota.

G.R. "Bob" Herberger, a native of Osakis, Minn., founded Herberger's in St Cloud in 1927.

The Fargo Herberger's opened in West Acres in 1998, when the deLendrecie's store became a Herberger's.

Herberger's was bought by Bon-Ton Stores in 2006.

Strapped for cash, Bon-Ton sold the land and building for six of its stores, including the West Acres Herberger's, to W.P. Carey, which has been leasing the space back to Herberger's.

Herberger's opened in the Moorhead Center Mall in October 1983, replacing Eckstein's, and the store underwent several expansions, including a parking ramp completed in 1992.

Big-box retailers have been hard-hit in recent years, and that has not only left gaps in the national retail fabric, but locally, too.

West Acres recently filled part of the space vacated by Sears with Best Buy, which moved from its long-time standalone site near the mall.

The area also lost its Toys 'R Us store with the bankruptcy and liquidation of all of the remaining stores of the iconic toy-selling giant.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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