It may not be the first choice for diehard sneaker fans, but Payless ShoeSource has been a retail institution for more than half a century. Originally founded in 1956 by cousins Louis and Shaol Pozez, the company has steadily grown to operate an impressive 4,496 locations around the world. Known for low-cost footwear and off-brand kicks, Payless has offered affordable alternatives for customers who may not be inclined to drop serious cash on trendy pieces. It’s been a seemingly successful formula for the American corporation, but things are beginning to change for the budget-friendly franchise. According to a report by Reuters this week, Payless ShoeSource is in the midst of filing for Chapter 11 protection. The bankruptcy claim will also spark the closure of 400 store locations across the United States alone.
Speaking with press yesterday, Payless CEO W. Paul Jones expressed his disappointment with the newfound reality. “This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify,” he stated to media. It’s been a tough market for PayLess, who have consistently competed with larger and sexier stores outfitted with recognizable sneaker brands. Payless isn’t the only affordable retailer to shutter doors this year, as K-Mart, Sears, and J.C. Penny have all made their own moves to cut operation costs. While it has yet to announce a complete shutdown, the news doesn’t bode well for the Kansas-based company. Perhaps if they did indeed link up with Kanye West last year, the business could have turned around. But in the words of the aforementioned artist, “I guess we’ll never know.”