Payless in Port Angeles is among 2,500 stores nationwide closing as the debt-burdened chain holds liquidation sales. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Payless in Port Angeles is among 2,500 stores nationwide closing as the debt-burdened chain holds liquidation sales. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Payless shoe store could stay open through May

Inventory being liquidated after corporate bankruptcy filing

PORT ANGELES — A rough closure date has been set for the Payless shoe store east of downtown Port Angeles.

The discount footwear retailer could shut down its 1908 E. First St. location by June after selling shoes there for 30 years, long before some disappointed customers who were picking through merchandise Monday were born.

Topeka, Kan.-based Payless ShoeSource Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Feb. 18, setting in motion inventory liquidation sales in about 2,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Payless could stay open through May, store supervisors including Port Angeles Payless manager Irina Marcyanova were told last week in a corporation-wide memo.

“While we can’t predict how long the liquidation process will take, we expect the liquidation sales for most stores to continue through May,” it said.

“The store will close when the liquidation sales have been completed.”

Marcyanova, a Sequim resident, has worked at the store for 20 years, she said Monday.

“We don’t know when we’re going to sell everything,” she said, noting the store opened in 1989.

She is among six employees who will lose their jobs, although Marcyanova does not know what she will do when that happens.

“This is like a second home to me,” she said.

Marcyanova, who has a family, has not had time to look for another job.

“I haven’t looked for anything yet because I’m still working like 45 hours a week,” she said.

About a half-dozen customers visiting the store Monday afternoon were greeted with signs saying “everything must go,” “all sales final,” “no returns” and “no checks.”

Amanda Sanders, 20, and Lexie Jeffers, 19, were trying on shoes and taking smartphone photos of how they looked.

The friends were raised in the Port Angeles area and have visited the store since they were children.

Sanders would buy jewelry for dances there, she recalled.

“They always have pretty good deals and always have pretty nice shoes,” said the Peninsula College student.

You could pay $200 for shoes at Macy’s and pay half the price at Payless, she lamented.

“It’s gonna be a shock when they actually leave,” Sanders added.

The Payless shoe store building and land is valued at $290,415, according to county records.

It’s owned by Port Angeles Plaza Associates LLC of Seattle, which also owns nearby buildings that house AutoZone Auto Parts and Harbor Freight Tools, according to county records.

Eli Genauer, listed as Port Angeles Plaza Associates agent with the state Secretary of State’s Office, did not return calls for comment Monday about the future of the Payless building.

The building’s personal property, owned by Payless ShoeSource, is valued at $5,742.

Calls left on a bankruptcy hotline set up for the shutdown were not returned.

It was the second time in recent years the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Payless came back from the brink in August 2017 after closing more than 650 stores.

“The challenges facing retailers today are well documented, and unfortunately Payless emerged from its prior reorganization ill-equipped to survive in today’s retail environment,” Payless chief restructuring officer Stephen Marotta said in a Feb. 18 statement.

The bankruptcy was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

“The prior proceedings left the company with too much remaining debt, too large a store footprint and a yet-to-be-realized systems and corporate overhead structure consolidation,” Marotta said.

The company’s Latin American stores and international franchisee stores will remain 0pen and continue business as usual, Marotta said.

An employee at the store’s Port Angeles branch, which survived the first Chapter 11 filing with loyal customers like Sanders and Jeffers, said online sales may have hurt the corporation’s bottom line.

“We’ve had some troubles because of Amazon and other online shopping outlets,” the employee speculated.

That prospect didn’t sit well with Sanders, who insisted it’s “impossible” to buy suitable shoes online.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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