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SEATTLE-A big-box Bon Marche store opening its doors this week in Helena, MT likely will serve as a blueprint for future Bon stores and for that of its parent company, Federated Department Stores.

The new store cost about a third less to construct than a typical mall department store and make good economic sense both for the customer and the company, says Dan Edelman, chairman of the Seattle-based Bon Marche.

“We are very excited about our new store concept in the ‘open air’ Northside Center,” Edelman said when construction of the store was announced.” The Northside Center provides a unique way for The Bon Marche to meet its customers’ needs. The unique design of our new Helena store represents a range of opportunities for The Bon Marche and other Federated divisions to service small- and mid-sized communities where larger store formats would not make sense.”

The goal of the new store is to create an efficient shopping environment. The new full-line department store format includes a single-level, single-entrance design and centralized customer service stations. The 65,000 square-foot facility will offer upscale apparel, accessories and home merchandise, excluding furniture, and will emphasize customer convenience throughout.

The Helena store is joined by another Bon grand opening this week, in the Wenatchee Valley Mall. That store is a traditional, two-level, 87,000-sf facility.

Until this week, the company, which operates 44 stores in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, hasn’t opened a new facility in four years. But plans call for news stores in Yakima in 2001 and Redmond by 2003.

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