Payless Shoes closing all US stores


No. No. It was their marketing trick.

Wait when I said they had their Social Media magic and didn’t really do anything with it, was it not widely known what they did. Here…

I was just disappoitned to find out, they didn’t really have a plan… just a moment. I didn’t think it was rude as they said, just trying to find a non-paywall article that spoke about it.


Holy cats. I forgot about that. What a dumb ploy.

You are absolutely right. We have to plow through shoes.

Luckily I wear Docs, and they last forever.



I’ve heard they were in a similar situation to Toys R Us where when they got acquired via a leveraged buyout they got saddled with debt.

Same thing happened with Sports Authority too


The last six pairs of boots I’ve purchased I bought from Amazon and didn’t have a problem (A Thorogood, two Chippewas, a Justin, and two Golden Foxs). To be honest with you I struggle to think of anything I wouldn’t buy online. Last year I bought my TV and my bed online. I bought a three piece suit online, and if I had to buy a tuxedo I’d do the same. Hell, I basically bought my truck online, though I did test drive it once and signed the papers at the dealership.

Maybe I’m just soured by all the shitty salesmen in the world, but if I didn’t have to deal with another one for the rest of my life I would be A-OK with that. I can sit at home and research my purchases to death and then have them arrive at my doorstep instead.


In college I thought I’d try and save a few bucks and hit some Payless sneakers. In the store they looked ok. Cheap but ok. But within a week the paint/dye on the outside started peeling or just falling off. The lace hole eyes were tearing and one lace had torn. And the soles were already worn down like I’d run every day for six months. They were horrible and crap and make the cheapest Walmart shoes look like Timberlands compared to them. There are plenty of other brick and mortar discount shoe store (DSW, Famous, Shoe Factory). And 2800 stores only equals like 1400 employees cause there never was anyone to help the few times I let my wife try to get kids shoes there.

That said if they could have upped their quality to, again, Walmart levels they could have filled a niche. The styles themselves were decent enough knockoffs. But they were paper mache disposable crap.


Exactly. That, and the variety of sizes available online. I have relatively short but wide feet–I wear 8.5 EEEEE shoes. Try finding those in a brick and mortar, especially in anything you’d actually want to wear.


You must be a fantastic swimmer.


Sadly, no. The width does not translate into actual webbing. Just a combo of how the ball of the foot and the instep are configured makes any shoe less wide uncomfortable.


I just wanted to say that I love Payless and will be sad to see them go. Having grown up going there and running around those library-esque shelves full of all kinds of things. Any “grown-up” shoe store has a wall or two devoted to 2 or 3 brands, but Payless just had sooooo much stuff. Getting a new pair of shoes was, and sometimes still is, a transformative event, and Payless made that possible during years of low income in my family.

It’s kind of amazing how shoes can have such an emotional effect on people. I’ve definitely had some fantastic relationships with pairs of shoes that transcended simple utilitarianism. Why are there a few specific items of clothing like that? I’ve never felt attached to a pair of underwear or pants, but shoes, jackets, and hats can become my best friends. Also, baseball gloves.

Also of note, about 2 years ago, Payless brought back the KangaROOS brand of shoes with pockets. Maybe I do look like a 40 year old kid, but I’ve got a 5 dollar bill in there, just in case. I’m glad I bought a baker’s dozen of them, since I’m not sure that they’ll ever return.


Oh man kangaroos is where I kept my milk money in 1982! I haven’t thought about that in years.


I hadn’t realized Payless was closing down completely, including their e-commerce operations. That’s wild. They’re going completely dead.

It’ll be an interesting case study for sure, and I should know: I’ve been buying their shoes for 20 years, regularly: one brand mostly, for working in restaurants. Payless made a variety of shoe called Safe-T-Step. I have tried Docs, I’ve tried a variety of different brands over the years of working in a restaurant, and no brand could compete with the original Safe-T-Steps.

These were shoes marketed at restaurant workers, mechanics, factory floor and warehouse workers, even hospital and maintenance workers. Basically, anyone whose regular workplace might be prone to puddles of water and grease or other slippery substances where such unmarked dangers were a real hazard. The soles of those ugly-ass Safe-T-Step shoes were like magic: they just didn’t slip in water or oil or whatever. And they were really well built. They lasted 6 months of regular everyday 10-hour shift use; I used to walk 3-5 miles per day just walking around the restaurant on my feet. They were comfortable enough, and they were tough…and you never worried about slip and falls in them.

(Caveat: for whatever reason, the magic tread on Safe-T-Steps was terrible on snow and ice.)

But…around about the time Payless was coming out of its first bankruptcy, they started changing the materials in their Safe-T-Steps. They used cheaper rubber compounds in the soles. They used cheaper faux leather in the uppers, which became prone to cracking within a few weeks of wear. The glues they used to bind the shoes together were cheaper, and soles started to peel. I think I gave up on them and bought my last pair in 2011 or so. They were just junk. (It turns out that the Safe-T-Step shoe treads were licensed from a company called Shoes For Crews, who still exist very much, and appear to make much higher-quality work shoes…if I were in that market still.)

Over the years, Payless would tempt me with a sale (I love shoes, btw, cheap, expensive, whatever…) and I’d find a couple of pairs that looked like knockoffs of some Pumas or Skechers I owned. Invariably, they’d manage to last just a month or two before the soles would come apart, or the uppers would crack or tear, or shoelace eyelets would come out.

I also remember one time around 2012, I stopped by a local Payless to see if I could find any “old” Safe-T-Steps lurking on the shelves. The store wasn’t empty; there were customers shopping. But there was a line of like three people waiting to buy while the sole employee working was trying to help another customer find a size before she could dash up to the register to ring those sales.

And the really bizarre thing to me about Payless is that even after bankruptcy, they continued to do their own shipping and logistics in-house for their ecommerce. I mean, I imagine Amazon takes quite a bite to handle that, but even so it has to be less expensive than handling those logistics themselves. I guess I’m stunned that they didn’t shut down all but a handful of their highest-performing retail brick and mortars and then go full e-commerce, partnering with someone like Amazon for fulfillment purposes.