San Diegans philosophize about loss of Payless

No more at Stonecrest Plaza, Southland Plaza, Main Street Village, Clairemont Town Square, North County Square, Broadway Plaza, and Encinitas Ranch Town Center

Payless, Murphy Canyon. “Their low prices and BOGO kept me coming back."
  • Payless, Murphy Canyon. “Their low prices and BOGO kept me coming back."

“They are closing it because it’s bankrupt from what I heard,” said Kristina Aquino as she barely left Payless ShoeSource at 3460 Murphy Canyon Road location in Stonecrest Plaza.

Aquino and Smith. Aquino: "I used to come here often with my mom.”

Aquino and Smith. Aquino: "I used to come here often with my mom.”

Aquino and her friend Anthony Smith, bought a pair of sneakers from the liquidation sale at around noon on July 6.

“When I was younger (in 2004) I used to come here often with my mom,” said Aquino, “[but] because of all of the other places that are opening, you can get the same thing for cheaper prices.”

Payless at Southland Plaza in South San Diego

Payless at Southland Plaza in South San Diego

Smith agreed and said “There you go, there’s more options [to buy discount shoes] now.”

“I mean you can go to Ross, TJ Maxx, and the Nike factory,” she said, “… and with my military discount – it would’ve [probably] been cheaper.”

Alex, the sales rep inside the store, said he couldn’t comment on any details of the closings of many of the 4,400 Payless shoe stores worldwide. He did, although, say his store will be closing its doors on July 10. He added that he and his co-workers will be relocating to a different shoe store. Prices in this store were discounted at 20-40 percent off, and the sales fixtures were up for grabs.

“It’s no longer the discount shoe store [and] the prices are up there,” Khristin said, “and I only buy when the shoes are on sale or if I’m desperate.” She works in the catering industry and picked up a pair of SafeTStep ($39) non-slip work shoes and “fun ‘lil” sandals. She buys her shoes at Wal-Mart, which is two stores down, but this day she was lured by the bright window display.

“Store closing, everything on sale, and everything must go” signs were plastered on all of the windows.

“I grew up coming to Payless (since the 1970s-1980s) [because] it was the functional discount store and it was practical,” Khristin said, “[but] I mean the prices have gone up, and the quality isn’t there.”

She said that she goes to “Kohls, Burlington, Ross, and Marshalls for the better quality at a discount.”

Michael is another old-school customer who’s been coming here since the 1980s. He was “diggin'” on the Kangaroos for $29.99 (original retail was $49.99) in the store. “Man [I think] that’s how much they were back then, I’m gonna call my mom and ask,” he said.

Michael blames some of the Payless stores’ demise on the internet. “Amazon and eBay have sellers killing the market,” he said, “they got companies selling direct from China (where most of the shoes are manufactured), closeout types who buy in bulk for pennies on the dollar, and let’s not forget the downtown Los Angeles garment district vendors, who are next down on the chain (of the wholesale market). Combine low prices with low overhead, savvy [computer] programs to handle invoices, inventory, and marketing, and then free shipping — it’s gonna be hard to compete.”

“Champion shoes (as low as $19) from Payless are the best,” said Luisa, a City College student, “I have three pairs [and] all in different colors.”

“I’ve been shopping there for at least nine years,” said Hoppe, a custom jewelry designer, “their low prices and BOGO kept me coming back, and just like any other higher-end brand; you have to weed through and find stylish, up-to-date fashionable pieces you like.”

Patsy, a fashionista/collector, has been scooping up the "Christian Siriano runway stuff" at the stores. "[The] prices here are cheap; when I was at the Chula [Vista] store, I saw a bunch of sandals for $10," she said, "now that's low for unused shoes [that are] mint-in-box." She wishes that the Siriano runway-line ($39-$49) will sell for that cheap one day.

Besides the Stonecrest Plaza closure, the Payless ShoeSource website has listed six other San Diego (and vicinity) stores that will be closing: Southland Plaza (South San Diego), Main Street Village (El Cajon), Clairemont Town Square, North County Square (Vista), Broadway Plaza (Chula Vista), and Encinitas Ranch Town Center.

On April 4, Payless ShoeSource (“Payless,” “the Company”) posted a press release which reads in part “that it has filed a voluntary petition for reorganization pursuant to Chapter 11 of the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Code to facilitate the financial and operational restructuring necessary to strengthen its balance sheet and position the Company for long-term success.”

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