Peace Out, Payless!

Woman holding a purse and looking at red shoes on display

Last year, it seems, was struck by great sadness as we mourned the loss of several retail giants, among them Toys R Us, Sears, and most recently, Payless.

A Reuters report announced on Thursday that Payless would file for its second bankruptcy in two years by the end of this month, as the company was unable to find a buyer to salvage it. But, the report also stated, there is a slim chance that a buyer could come forward even after the bankruptcy filing. Payless is also the only recent retail failure that I believe has not much to do with Amazon at all.

With decreasing quality, horrifying blandness, and unreasonable prices, Payless Shoes has set itself up to lose the interest of the American consumer. Its discount model is hardly competitive with those of other shoe retailers, especially DSW, Nordstrom Rack, and other outlets, where you can find branded shoes that look better and cost almost the same.

For children whose feet grow a half size every few months, Payless can be sensible and affordable. Its assortment of light-up sneakers and glittery sandals are perfect for parents who want chic offspring without having to throw out an expensive pair of shoes every six months.

For adult consumers, however, Payless hardly meets the mark. The retailer’s attempt at  knock-offs of other brands are unconvincing and its original products don’t last long enough to matter. Its partnership with Christian Siriano, which began in 2008, might have been its most only successful venture.

A recent prank that Payless boldly played on gullible fashion influencers might have convinced them to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes that were marked at $20, but I’ve learned that even if the $20 blender works better than the $200 blender, someone will buy the latter.

While it saddens me to see my favorite toy store disappear and my favorite place to sit in the washing machines be sold off, Payless is one retailer I’m relieved to bid farewell.

Photo: a screenshot of the company’s promotion video