By Sarah Kinonen. Photos: Getty Images.
Your days to shop cheap and cheerful strappy sandals in bulk — for less than a Benjamin — are dwindling, as Payless ShoeSource has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday. Adding to the news, the mass retailer announced its plans to immediately close 400 storefronts in both the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. To be fair, the news isn't entirely shocking. Back in February, we reported on rumors circulating about that very possibility.
Devastating, right? I know I'm not alone when I say Payless was my ultimate go-to for budget basic black flats and glittery prom shoes when I was a teen. However, the bankruptcy news isn't all that bad. With the closings, the shoe retailer plans to make lemonade out of lemons by boosting its online e-commerce presence — and reducing its debt by almost half. "This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify," Payless CEO W. Paul Jones said in a statement. "We will build a stronger Payless for our customers, vendors and suppliers, associates, business partners and other stakeholders through this process."
Payless ShoeSource was originally founded in 1965, in Topeka, Kanas, where its global headquarters remains today. Since its inception, the discount shoe retailer has opened 4,400 stores in 30 countries and employs nearly 22,000 people. It's also garnered a slew of celebrity fans, including Star Jones and "smize"master Tyra Banks. "My shoes were $20 from Payless and actually only $13 because it was the end-of-summer sale," Banks previously told InStyle. "I went in and bought myself four pairs of shoes. I don't play. And my friends were like, 'Oh my gosh, are those the new Pradas?' And I'm like, 'If you want them to be, sure!'" she said. "Don't they look kind of Prada-ish?"
With or without the backing by Banks, it's a time of systemic change for Payless ShoeSource and the state of brick and mortar retail. The shoe store joins American Apparel, Bebe, and The Limited, all of which have made the decision to shutter storefronts this year after sliding profits. So, here's to you, Payless — we're metaphorically pouring one out for you now.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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