I was on the way to Camrose for an eye appointment on Tuesday morning when I heard the news on the radio. Payless, my favourite source of inexpensive shoes, is going out of business!
We first encountered Payless ShoeSource while travelling in the United States more than 25 years ago. From then on, whenever one of our long summer treks took us across the border into the US, we were sure to stop at a Payless store somewhere along the way to buy the children new shoes for the upcoming school year. Needless to say, I was delighted when the first Canadian store opened its doors in 1997.
If I’ve counted correctly, I currently own 10 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of sandals, and a pair of tall black boots that I’ve worn almost constantly every winter since 2011, all purchased at Payless! Some of the shoes have only been worn a few times, but others I’ve had for years and walked countless miles in.
As soon as Tuesday’s eye appointment was done, I headed across town to the Payless store where the clerk confirmed that the chain had declared bankruptcy and was indeed closing all 2 500 locations across North America, including 248 in Canada. As a long-term employee, she’d had an inkling that this was coming, but she’d only officially received the news herself that morning.
The Kansas-based company, which was founded in 1956, previously filed for bankruptcy in 2017. At that time, the retailer closed about 900 US stores and by restructuring some of its debt was able to hang on for awhile longer. Unfortunately, however, according to its chief restructuring officer, Stephen Marotta, “Payless emerged from its prior reorganization ill-equipped to survive in today’s retail environment.” Liquidation sales are expected to start almost immediately and the company will begin closing stores at the end of March. Some are expected to remain open until the end of May.
If you’re a faithful Payless shopper like I am, you’ll definitely want to watch for those liquidation sales! That is, unless, you’re willing to go much further afield. Payless also has 420 stores in Latin America, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Saipan, and 370 international franchisee stores across the Middle East, India, Indonesia, Indochina, Philippines and Africa. Those stores will remain open.
RIP Payless. I’m going to miss you!