Payless Returning With Up to 500 Stores

Lisa Johnston
Editor-in-Chief, CGT
Lisa Johnston CGT
Payless is dropping "Shoesource" from its brand.
Payless is dropping "Shoesource" from its brand.

Payless is stepping back into retail.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy for the second time last year, will open 300 to 500 freestanding stores in North America over the next five years, beginning with a prototype in its new HQ city of Miami, FL.

Payless also operates 700 international and franchisee-owned stores in 30 countries.

The new U.S. stores will include such customer engagement tech as smart mirrors, touchscreen wall panels and an augmented reality foot comparison chart, putting the company in line with other merchants seeking to appeal to today's social distancing shoppers.

As part of this, the 64-year-old footwear and accessory retailer is also launching a new e-commerce platform — now live — and ditching “Shoesource” from its brand. Consumers can receive free shipping for orders more than $65.

Mindful of the fact the company is entering retail at a time when consumer budgets are unprecedentedly tight and lives disrupted, a new "Powered by Payless" corporate initiative intends to give back to communities by partnering with U.S. schools to provide Internet access, free lunches and, of course, shoes.

"We're back and bringing more community responsibility, fashion-forward footwear, and on-trend partnerships to our 60 million-plus Payless customers who have missed us," said Jared Margolis, Payless CEO, in a statement. "We saw an opportunity for the brand to relaunch into the U.S. market, providing our community with the affordable, value-driven products they've always searched for, now across multiple categories, at a time when value couldn't be more critical. Payless is for everyone, and now more than ever, the world needs to pay-less. We are so excited to bring Payless back to you, so you and future generations to come can lead the way forward."

Margolis, who joined the company from CAA-GBG Global Brand Management Group in October 2019 during its restructuring, told the Wall Street Journal that starting from scratch puts the company in a good position, noting that inventory in the new stores will be displayed differently than in previous iterations.

“We’ll carry 9,000 pairs of shoes, but you’ll only see shoes stacked high on the four walls. Everything in the middle will be stacked lower,” he said.

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