Metro-East News

Payless shoe stores in metro-east could be closing as part of corporate bankruptcy

Five Payless shoe stores in the metro-east would be affected if the company closes all of its approximately 2,300 locations when it files for bankruptcy this month, as reported by Reuters.

Payless ShoeSource has stores at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights, Green Mount Crossing in Shiloh, Nameoki Commons in Granite City, Cottonwood Station Mall in Glen Carbon and Alton Square. A Waterloo location already had been slated for closure. Its liquidation sale began last month.

In its report, Reuters quoted unidentified sources familiar with the matter.

“The move would make Payless one of the most high-profile victims of the string of bankruptcies that have hit the brick-and-mortar retail sector as more shopping is done online,” the report stated. “Toys ‘R’ Us and The Bon-Ton Stores are among the retailers that shut their stores in liquidations in the last 12 months.”

An email sent to the Payless media-relations department by the BND wasn’t immediately answered on Friday.

A clerk at the Fairview Heights store referred media questions to a corporate number, but it was out of service. A clerk in Glen Carbon said she wasn’t supposed to comment or give out contact information.

“They don’t want us talking about it with anybody,” she said.

A clerk in Granite City said she didn’t know if that store was closing.

“We haven’t heard anything from our company,” she said. “Hopefully, that’s a rumor.”

Payless was founded in Topeka, Kansas, in 1956. The 4,000-square-foot store at St. Clair Square has been operating for 25 years. It’s located on the top level near Sears, which is closing in March.

Mall manager Michael Hagen said he has read reports indicating that Payless is “going in a different direction” but that he has no direct knowledge of its plans.

“They have not officially told me that they’re leaving St. Clair Square, but I’ve been watching the same news feeds that you have,” he said.

Payless had been trying unsuccessfully to find a buyer, according to Reuters.

“After no such deal could be clinched, the Topeka-Kansas-based company has decided to initiate preparations to liquidate,” its report stated. “There is a small chance a buyer could emerge after Payless files for bankruptcy, the sources said. In the meantime, the company is preparing to run going-out-of-business sales at its shops in the next week.”

Teri Maddox has been a reporter for 35 years, joining the Belleville News-Democrat in 1990. She also teaches journalism at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. She holds degrees from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and University of Wisconsin-Madison.