Carson Pirie Scott & Co. (also known as Carson's) was an American department store that was founded in 1854, which grew to over 50 locations, primarily in the Midwestern United States. It was sold to the holding company of Bon-Ton in 2006, but still operated under the Carson name. The entire Bon-Ton collection of stores, including Carson's, went into bankruptcy and closed in 2018. Bon-Ton's intellectual property was quickly sold while in bankruptcy, and the new owners reopened shortly afterwards as a BrandX virtual retailer.[2]

Carson Pirie Scott & Co.
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1854 (170 years ago) (1854) in Chicago, Illinois
FoundersSamuel Carson, John Pirie
Number of locations
0 (at peak, 51 stores)[1]
ProductsClothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, housewares



Origins: Carson and Pirie


The chain began in 1854 when Samuel Carson and John Thomas Pirie first clerked in the Murray's dry goods store in Peru, Illinois, then opened their own store in LaSalle, followed by one in Amboy. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed 60% of the store's stock.[citation needed]

Origins: Scott


John Edwin Scott operated a dry goods store in Ottawa, Illinois. He later moved up to Chicago and became the first partner of Carson and Pirie in the ownership of a dry goods store which became known as Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Two of Scott's sons, Robert L. and Frederick H., were members of the department store firm.

Chicago flagship store

Carsons Pirie Scott & Co building by Louis Sullivan

The flagship store on State Street in the Downtown Chicago Loop is still known as the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building. Louis Sullivan designed it for department store Schlesinger & Mayer, who added to it over the years. When that company went bankrupt in 1904, they sold the building to Carson Pirie Scott in 1904, and it would remain Carson's flagship store for 114 years until the Carson's chain closed in 2018.

1960s–1980s expansion


In 1961, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. greatly expanded in Illinois by purchasing the 20 unit Block & Kuhl chain headquartered in Peoria.[3]

In 1980, to diversify its business, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. borrowed $108 million to buy Dobbs Houses, Inc., an airline caterer and owner of the Toddle House and Steak 'n Egg Kitchen restaurant chains. These were sold in 1988, as was the County Seat clothing chain.

In 1989, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. was acquired by P.A. Bergner & Co. (founded in Peoria), who operated the Bergner's, Charles V. Weise, Myers Brothers and Boston Store chains.[4]

Table of ownership and branding changes
Year Description
1961 Block & Kuhl stores rebranded Carson Pirie Scott
  • Carson Pirie Scott buys Donaldson's
  • Donaldson's rebranded Carson Pirie Scott
1989 Carson Pirie Scott acquired by P.A. Bergner & Co. who operated the Bergner's, Charles V. Weise, Myers Brothers and Boston Store chains
1998 Proffitt's Inc., now Saks Incorporated, buys P. A. Bergner & Co.
2005 Saks sells Carson Pirie Scott as well as Bergner's, Younkers, Boston Store, and Herberger's to Bon-Ton Stores
2018 Bon-Ton liquidates its department stores

Bergner's bankruptcy


In 1991, P.A. Bergner & Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy;[5] upon emerging from bankruptcy in 1993, it became a NASDAQ publicly traded company, changing its operating name to Carson Pirie Scott & Co.[6][7] One year later, the company commenced trading on the NYSE under the CRP symbol.

Acquisition by Proffitt's/Saks


By 1998, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. ownership was held by Proffitt's, Inc., (later renamed Saks Incorporated to reflect the acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue). The Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner's, and Boston Store chains, along with Younkers and Herberger's nameplates, eventually operated as Saks' Northern Department Store Group (NDSG), based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In late 2005, however, the group was put up for sale as Saks Incorporated tried to refocus itself primarily on its core Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Sale to The Bon-Ton and store closings

A Carson's store at Mounds Mall in Anderson, Indiana during closing sales in 2018.

Carson's and its associated stores became part of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. in a $1.1 billion deal completed on March 6, 2006.[8] The group's merchandising and marketing base remained in Milwaukee.

Bon-Ton converted Elder-Beerman stores in Indiana and Michigan to the newly shortened Carson's name in 2011 and 2012.[9][10] The chain expanded into Metro Detroit in 2013 with the conversion of three Parisian stores.[11]

Bon-Ton announced on April 17, 2018 that they would cease operations and began liquidating all 267 stores after two liquidators, Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, won an auction for the company. The bid was estimated to be worth $775.5 million. This included all remaining Carson's stores after 164 years of operation. According to national retail reporter Mitch Nolen, stores closed within 10 to 12 weeks.[12][13]



The intellectual property of Bon-Ton, including Carson's, was quickly sold in bankruptcy to CSC Generation, and online retail was reopened. The new owners, based in Merrillville, Indiana, were also exploring opening new store locations.[2] On October 29, 2018; Under this new ownership and using the same company and stores' names, Bon-Ton started announcing it would reopen the Evergreen Park, Illinois Carson's store on November 24 (Black Friday)–one of Bon-Ton's first brick-and-mortar stores to reopen. Bon-Ton has also announced plans to open brick-and-mortar Carson's stores in Bloomingdale, Lombard and Orland Park.[14] The sole location to return to operation was in Evergreen Park; the company never followed through in Orland Park and Lombard. The Evergreen Park location closed in October 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[15] Carson's currently has no brick and mortar stores and exists only as on online retailer. As of November, 2021 Carson's website is preparing for another relaunch by BrandX who has also acquired the Stage Store trademarks.


Carson Pirie Scott logos
  Carson Pirie Scott logo used between 1946 through 1978.
  Carson Pirie Scott Logo used from 1978 through the company's sale to Bergner in 1989. The box design and "& Co." suffix was dropped in 1986; this later variant of the logo could still be found on older store signage through the company's end.
  Final Carson Pirie Scott logo before the name was shortened, which adopted the red insignia and font of Bergner's.

See also



  1. ^ "The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-22. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  2. ^ a b Zumbach, Lauren (September 21, 2018). "Carson's joins retailers seeking life after liquidation with online revival and bricks-and-mortar aspirations". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  3. ^ Wilson, Mark R. "Carson Pirie Scott & Co.". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Carson Pirie Scott & Company". Encyclopedia. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  5. ^ Strom, Stephanie (24 August 1991). "COMPANY NEWS; Bergner Stores Chain In Bankruptcy Filing". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-25. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Carson Pirie Stock Offering". The New York Times. 1 November 1993. Archived from the original on 2015-05-26. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  7. ^ Writer, John Schmeltzer, Tribune Staff (31 October 1993). "CARSONS IS REBORN FROM BANKRUPTCY". Retrieved 2021-04-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Investor Relations". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2006-03-08.
  9. ^ "Charlotte: Search Results". Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Elder-Beerman stores in Monroe swap name". 2 October 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Parisian department stores will be renamed Carson's | Shopping | Detroit Free Press |". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Bon-Ton Stores to close (report)". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  13. ^ "Liquidators to wind down US department store chain Bon-Ton". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  14. ^ Lauren Zumbach (October 29, 2018). "Carson's reopening Evergreen Park store on Black Friday". Chicago Tribune.
  15. ^ Pete, Joseph S. (October 10, 2020). "Merrillville-based Carson's closed its only brick-and-mortar store". Times of Northwest Indiana.

Further reading

  • Merwood‐Salisbury, Joanna. "Schlesinger and Mayer Department Store/Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan." Companion to the History of Architecture (2017): 1-10.
  • Siry, Joseph. Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store (University of Chicago Press, 1988) online ISBN 0-226-76136-3