What Should Go There: Quakertown’s Former Bon-Ton

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Bon-Ton Quakertown

There won’t be any Christmas shopping there this year. For now, all that remains of the former Bon-Ton department store in the Richland Plaza shopping center on Rt. 309 are an empty building and memories of jollier times.

The name literally means “good tone” in French, but opportunities to sing the praises of the former Bon-Ton department store near Quakertown have been few and far between since it closed two-and-a-half years ago.

All of the chain’s stores closed after it filed for bankruptcy in early 2018, however some are now being repurposed. For example, the former Bon-Ton in Bethlehem’s Westgate Mall on Schoenersville Road will soon house a new Weis Markets grocery store.

There’s been no indication that a supermarket–or anything else, for that matter–will occupy the Upper Bucks Bon-Ton building anytime soon.

The 84,000 square-foot vacancy has left a large hole in the Richland Plaza shopping center’s store tenancy lineup, which includes anchors Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Redner’s Warehouse Market as well as a number of smaller shops and eateries.

A 2019 Bucks County Courier-Times article included a description of the former Bon-Ton as “two acres under a roof,” which isn’t something you find often, according to the Metro Commercial real estate broker who was interviewed for it.

Located along a heavily-traveled section of Rt. 309 in Richland Township, near the south end of a sprawling retail strip that’s more than a mile long, the empty store is now eerily symbolic of a shopping era that has largely passed.

Fewer Americans than ever are visiting department stores, preferring instead to make purchases online or from “big box” retailers like Walmart. The COVID-19 pandemic that began in March has only accelerated the demise of the department store, with some economic analysts calling the overall fallout from the coronavirus a “retail apocalypse.”

So whatever comes next for the space, bear in mind that it likely won’t include a hosiery department.

Tell us what you think should occupy the space, and why, in a comment.

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