We went shopping at Payless 3 days after it filed for bankruptcy for the second time in 2 years - and it's clear why the store is dying

payless shoe store bankrupt 3Katie Canales/Business Insider

  • Payless ShoeSource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday.
  • This is the second time in two years that the company has filed for bankruptcy.
  • The store has struggled in recent years due to big competition from fast-fashion brands like Forever 21 and larger retailers alike. Its less-than-optimal online-shopping experience has also failed to give the company an edge.
  • We went shopping at a Payless location days after the company's announcement and found outdated styles and dull shoe displays.
  • Here's what it was like inside.

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We visited the Payless ShoeSource location at 934 Market Street in San Francisco, California.

We visited the Payless ShoeSource location at 934 Market Street in San Francisco, California.

This is one of roughly 2,500 stores in North America that will be closing following the company's bankruptcy filing.

This is one of roughly 2,500 stores in North America that will be closing following the company's bankruptcy filing.

Source: Business Insider

There were posters advertising the store's closing displayed on the windows.

There were posters advertising the store's closing displayed on the windows.

The loud yellow lettering was hard to miss.

The loud yellow lettering was hard to miss.

And you could also spot yellow sales stickers on a display table of sneakers through the window.

And you could also spot yellow sales stickers on a display table of sneakers through the window.

The advertising seemed to be working — the aisles were fairly packed with bargain hunters.

The advertising seemed to be working — the aisles were fairly packed with bargain hunters.

Everything in the store was 20% off.

Everything in the store was 20% off.

Tall boots had a larger discount — they were 40% off.

Tall boots had a larger discount — they were 40% off.

The women's department was on the ground floor.

The women's department was on the ground floor.

Handbags lined a wall close to the cash register.

Handbags lined a wall close to the cash register.

There were also socks and tights, all advertised as being 20% off.

There were also socks and tights, all advertised as being 20% off.

There were a few of these cushioned seats stationed around the store. This one had some stains on it.

There were a few of these cushioned seats stationed around the store. This one had some stains on it.

Through the aisles, there was a wide range of shoe labels.

Through the aisles, there was a wide range of shoe labels.

Airwalk sneakers were abundant, priced at $30.

Airwalk sneakers were abundant, priced at $30.

Champion sneakers and walking shoes were also prominent in the store.

Champion sneakers and walking shoes were also prominent in the store.

There were plenty of work- and comfort-oriented shoes, like these slip-resistant black slip-on shoes that cost $34.99.

There were plenty of work- and comfort-oriented shoes, like these slip-resistant black slip-on shoes that cost $34.99.

What looked like school uniform footwear was in stock as well.

What looked like school uniform footwear was in stock as well.

There were heels and sneakers by the American Eagle brand.

There were heels and sneakers by the American Eagle brand.

These American Eagle black flats were $24.99.

These American Eagle black flats were $24.99.

Shoes by Dexflex comfort were in stock.

Shoes by Dexflex comfort were in stock.

There were these on-trend red sock boots by Brash for $50.

There were these on-trend red sock boots by Brash for $50.

These Brash over-the-knee boots were priced at $60.

These Brash over-the-knee boots were priced at $60.

But these sparkly tall boots were on clearance sale for a more affordable $20.

But these sparkly tall boots were on clearance sale for a more affordable $20.

There was a handful of shoes that had the red clearance sticker.

There was a handful of shoes that had the red clearance sticker.

High-heels by the Christian Siriano brand were some of the trendiest shoes in the store. These gold shimmery heels were $34.99.

High-heels by the Christian Siriano brand were some of the trendiest shoes in the store. These gold shimmery heels were $34.99.

There were these pointed red pumps ...

There were these pointed red pumps ...

... but also some more work-friendly shoes for $34.99.

... but also some more work-friendly shoes for $34.99.

Upstairs was the men's department.

Upstairs was the men's department.

It was a ghost town compared to downstairs.

It was a ghost town compared to downstairs.

There were pieces of trash scattered in certain places.

There were pieces of trash scattered in certain places.

There were slip-on work shoes by Dexter Comfort for $39.99.

There were slip-on work shoes by Dexter Comfort for $39.99.

Shoes by the Hunter's Bay brand were in stock.

Shoes by the Hunter's Bay brand were in stock.

And these waterproof work boots were priced at $44.99.

And these waterproof work boots were priced at $44.99.

There were multiple Champion sneaker options ...

There were multiple Champion sneaker options ...

... and there were slip-resistant work shoes for $29.99.

... and there were slip-resistant work shoes for $29.99.

Overall, the store was nicely kept, but the shoes weren't obviously sorted by category, like fitness, dress, etc.

Overall, the store was nicely kept, but the shoes weren't obviously sorted by category, like fitness, dress, etc.

The shoe boxes sat straightened on the shelves ...

The shoe boxes sat straightened on the shelves ...

... but the display didn't look anything like how department stores like Macy's showcase their footwear.

... but the display didn't look anything like how department stores like Macy's showcase their footwear.

Historically, the store has been known for its unbeatable low prices.

Historically, the store has been known for its unbeatable low prices.

Source: Digiday

But Payless has had to compete with other fashion brands across the board in recent years, from fast-fashion stores like Forever 21 to larger retailers like Walmart and Target.

But Payless has had to compete with other fashion brands across the board in recent years, from fast-fashion stores like Forever 21 to larger retailers like Walmart and Target.

Source: Digiday

Payless also has a lackluster online-shopping experience, which has likely played a role in its downfall.

Payless also has a lackluster online-shopping experience, which has likely played a role in its downfall.

Source: Digiday

Some of the styles seemed outdated, too, like these glittery Birkenstock look-a-likes.

Some of the styles seemed outdated, too, like these glittery Birkenstock look-a-likes.

Despite the bargain prices, Payless' unattractive shoe displays, lack of an e-commerce presence, and inability to keep up with other fashion labels point to why it's struggled in recent years.

Despite the bargain prices, Payless' unattractive shoe displays, lack of an e-commerce presence, and inability to keep up with other fashion labels point to why it's struggled in recent years.

Source: Digiday

It seems as though an era of value shoe shopping is coming to an end.

It seems as though an era of value shoe shopping is coming to an end.
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