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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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YOUNKERS. Younkers was an American department store chain founded as a family-run dry goods business in 1856 in Keokuk, Iowa. The retailer expanded to include a presence in locations throughout Iowa and surrounding states in the Midwest region of the United States. Younkers became influential as it acquired several rivals throughout the 20th century both inside and outside of Iowa. The chain itself was sold by the late 1990s, with ownership transferring out of state, and its Des Moines-based headquarters closed by 2003 as a part of corporate consolidation. Following its most recent sale in 2006, Younkers operated as a subsidiary of The Bon-Ton, with locations in seven Midwestern states, primarily in shopping malls. As of 2008, it operated more than forty locations in this region. (1)

In 1968 Younkers was the first business to open for business in KENNEDY MALL. In 1992 Younkers considered Dubuque for a new distribution center which would initially employ two hundred people. This development did not occur. (2) In 1993 Younkers announced that it was going to lease the former ARMSTRONG'S DEPARTMENT STORE space at KENNEDY MALL. Renovation would include adding an escalator and moving the men's, children's and home departments to that site. (3) This became Younkers West. The Younkers North store handled women's clothing. The Dubuque stores were now one of the largest Younkers operations outside of Des Moines. (4)

In April, 2018 the Dubuque department store was listed as one of seven Younkers in Iowa planned for closing. The other Younkers stores were located in Cedar Rapds, Coralville, Des Moines Mason City, Sioux City and West Des Moines. A total of 545 people were impacted with ninety of these in Dubuque. Representatives of the company announced that June 5 would be the date layoffs would begin. (5)

The 1972 through 2014 Dubuque City Directory listed Kennedy Mall.



1. "Younkers" Wikipedia

2. Bergstrom, Kathy. "Younkers Weighs Dubuque Center," Telegraph Herald, October 78, 1992, p. 1

3. Bergstrom, Kathy. "Younkers Expands at Mall," Telegraph Herald, July 8, 1993, p. 1

4. Bergstrom, Kathy. "Younkers West To Open in Store October 5," Telegraph Herald, September 23, 1993, p. 2

5. Montgomery, Jeff, "Dubuque Mall's 1st tenant, Younkers Now Plans to Close; 90 employees Impacted," THonline, April 17, 2018, Online: http://www.telegraphherald.com/news/public_announcements/article_972fdcdd-5064-5f50-9397-9993290aa73b.html