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Tuesday, August 6, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Bon Marche Restoring Glamour -- Face-Lift Is Set For Completion This October

DOWNTOWN

Shoppers at The Bon Marche's flagship store may notice more things taken away than added once the store's $27 million dollar face-lift is finished in October.

"Picture a grand piece of oak that was painted over by someone," said John Buller, The Bon's senior vice president of marketing.

"When you finally strip away the paint, you're left with something beautiful. That's what we've done downtown.

For example, pillars that were painted over to mask detailed Corinthian pillars were stripped. Gold leaf was overlaid,and lighting was added to highlight the pillars.

For too long, said Jan Jones, who is manager of the downtown Bon Marche, the store almost hid from its history and grandeur. "We did things like using lighting to make the ceilings seems shorter. But now we're going to emphasize those things."

Jones said the store traditionally has only done "Band-Aid" renovations; the current one is the first major renovation since the store was built in 1924. In 1954 four floors were added to make the building eight stories tall.

"I think we're recognizing that stores like this will never be built again. We have 19-foot ceilings; we're putting in wide aisles. You'd never see that sort of thing being built today," said Jones.

That the renovation occurred, at all, is something of a surprise, since the Bon's parent, Allied Stores Inc., filed for bankruptcy early last year.

At the time of the bankruptcy, the renovation was in full swing. Work stopped temporarily, until The Bon received approval to proceed from Allied Stores creditors.

"(Bon Chairman) Wilbur Fix talked to the creditors and convinced them, that this renovation was absolutely necessary - an investment in the store's future," said John Buller, vice president of marketing and advertising for The Bon.

"For a bankrupt company to do this is pretty incredible," said Buller.

The Bon plans to celebrate the renovation in early November.

Already, the basement floor on the Metro Bus Tunnel level, and the first, second, and sixth floors are finished. Work is under way on the third, fourth and fifth floors.

On all floors, new lighting is being installed, and floors, ceilings, walls and ceiling fixtures are being replaced and reconfigured.

One of the biggest expenses has been an Italian marble floor, at a cost of $25 a square foot, on the main floor.

Buller said the store is being redesigned to include more selling space on fewer floors.

Office and storage space on all the floors is being removed and consolidated on the top two floors, seven and eight.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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