by Stephen Garner
Getty Images

Payless, the footwear retailer founded in 1956, is relaunching in the North American market after filing for bankruptcy protection and shutting all of its 2,100 stores in the U.S. last year.

Formally dropping “Shoesource” from the brand name, the embattled retailer is making a comeback with a new e-commerce site and new brick-and-mortar retail concept stores.

The retailer says that its goal is to open 300-500 freestanding stores across North America over the next five years, beginning with the launch of the first prototype store in Miami, Florida, the new home and headquarters for the brand. The new store locations will be in addition to the brand’s existing 700 international stores – 298 Franchise and 412 Latin and Central America locations.

Payless is also taking steps to implement “engaging in-store touchpoints that merge design with onsite digital components, including smart mirrors, touchscreen wall panels, and a first-of-its-kind Augmented Reality foot comparison chart,” according to the retailer.

“We’re back and bringing more community responsibility, fashion-forward footwear, and on-trend partnerships to our 60M+ Payless customers who have missed us,” said Jared Margolis, CEO of Payless. “We saw an opportunity for the brand to relaunch into the US 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.”

The footwear retailer has also unveiled the “Powered by Payless” initiative. Looking ahead to the fall 2020 season, a growing number of individuals nationwide will be unable to access the internet or the technology needed for at-home and hybrid learning, and the meal services provided through in-school lunch programs. In order to assist with these concerns, Payless is partnering with deserving schools across the country to provide students, teachers, and their families with the online connectivity technology, complimentary lunches, and shoes to power the body and mind for this new and different school year ahead.

“We are in truly unpreceded times, and it’s undeniable that this year’s back-to-school season will be unlike any other,” said Margolis. “We are fully aware that we’re relaunching in a time when many have lost their jobs, finances are tight, and parents nationwide are adjusting to working from home, facilitating at-home schooling for their children, all while serving the most important role as a parent. However, during this time we also know that kids all over the country are leading the way – through their imaginations, resilience, and determination. We’re excited and proud to be in a position to bring the Payless brand back to life to provide parents with the value they need, and kids with the styles they will love, in a way that acknowledges and celebrates every single one of our consumers.”