10 photos that show the glory days of Payless ShoeSource

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Payless is closing the majority of its stores. Paul Warner/ Getty
  • Payless announced it’s liquidating and closing all of its stores in North America.
  • The company had humble beginnings in Topeka, Kansas.
  • Eventually, the company spread to countries all over the world and became one of the top shoe retailers in the US.

Payless is about to meet the same fate as some of America’s fallen companies.

Like Toys “R” Us, Payless ShoeSource announced it will be liquidating and closing all of its stores in the US and Canada. As sales dipped to dangerous lows and a declaration of bankruptcy came, it’s easy to forget that Payless was once one of the most popular shoe retailers in the country.

Here’s what Payless was like from its humble beginnings to its glory days.


In 1956, two cousins started selling cheap shoes in Topeka, Kansas in stores known as Payless National.

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Payless ShoeSource window display. James Leynse/ Getty

Louis and Shaol Pozez started Payless as a small chain of stores but eventually expanded to a corporation known as Volume Show Corporation, Inc. The two cousins stayed on as president and CEO when the company was bought by May Department Stores in 1979.


In 1991, Payless ShoeSource Inc. was founded.

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Payless storefront. Jeff Greenberg/ Getty

Throughout the years, the company remained a staple in the shoe industry.


The store has reached every state and countries all over the world.

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Shoppers at Payless. NurPhoto/ Getty

Eventually, it became the No. 1 shoe retailer in the US.


In 2006, the company had another big change, introducing a new logo that many associate with the brand today.

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Payless’ new logo. Justin Sullivan/ Getty

“This new logo is designed to amplify the new Payless brand position–to inspire fun fashion possibilities for the family,” CEO Matt Rubel said at the time.


In 2011, Payless saw one of its best years, with sales at $US3.4 billion.

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Shopper at Payless. NurPhoto/ Getty

That year was one of the most successful years for the company, as it became a publicly held company.


But as online retailers become increasingly popular, Payless is set to close all of its stores in North America.

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Stores closing. NurPhoto/ Getty

With the popularity of Amazon and other big retailers, Payless announced it will close all 2,500 stores.


The discount shoe store was always a perfect place to shop for a great, cheap pair of shoes.

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Woman shopping at Payless. NurPhoto/ Getty

From boots to flats and sneakers to flip flops, Payless had something for every customer.


It even had great options for kids when it was back to school time.

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Children shopping at Payless. NurPhoto/ Getty

Partnerships with Disney, Marvel and even Jojo Siwa were popular choices among children.


Payless also partnered with a number of big designers to offer high end brands at lower costs.

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Christian Siriano at Payless. Donald Bowers/ Getty

Designers Christian Siriano and Martha Stewart both sold their shoes at Payless, while well-known brands like Champion, Airwalk, and American Eagle were also for sale.


The store also sold handbags and other accessories — all at cheap costs.

From jewellery to pillows, Payless had a wide variety of options for consumers that went beyond just footwear.