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Billings' two remaining Payless stores are set to close after Payless ShoeSource Inc. filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Topeka, Kansas-based chain first filed bankruptcy in April 2017, closing hundreds of locations nationwide. It reorganized and cut its debt, but the changes don't appear to have been enough to avoid its second declaration of bankruptcy, national outlets reported.

This second bankruptcy will close all 2,500 stores, which are located in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, Payless said in a press release last week. Store closures will include Billings' two remaining locations in Shopko and Rimrock Mall.

Daron Olson, marketing director at the Rimrock Mall, said he hasn’t heard anything from the Payless Corporate Offices regarding the status of the store in the mall.

“We haven’t gotten any exact correspondence from Payless legal yet, but we are anticipating it based upon the national reports,” he said. “We’re waiting. We usually would get a notice from their legal stating their exact move-out date and things like that.”

The Payless in the mall is already having a liquidation sale, and an employee said it’d be closing in May.

Payless will join the Herberger’s lot for empty mall locations; Herberger's closed in August 2018. All the empty space doesn’t faze Olson.

“This isn’t a static business. This is living, breathing property, and we try to navigate the needs of the community,” he said. “When we do get square footage back it’s kind of an exciting opportunity to re-evaluate our merchandising mix to see what the community is interested in.”

Last year the mall filled almost 60,000 square feet of store front, Olson said, bringing 15 new deals to the mall. Those varied from a new pizza place to a gymnastics studio opening in the mall.

As far as the shoe void Payless is leaving, Olson said there are still plenty of value shoe places at the mall, including the newly opened Shoe Dept. Encore.

The soon-to-be shuttered Payless might not leave a dent in the mall, but the Billings’ Shopko isn’t so lucky.

Shopko also declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and several Montana locations have closed. Billings saw the store's pharmacy close, though the store as a whole remains open. Now it's losing its Payless.

Liquidations sales at the Shopko location haven’t begun yet because the store closure date hasn’t been finalized, an employee said.

A statement released by Payless said that liquidations sales would run into March, with most continuing until the end of May. Returns on non-final sale items would be honored until March 1, it said.

After that the stores will begin to close for good. International franchises and all stores in Latin America are going to remain open.

Payless is following other big retailers' suite by closing doors. It joins ranks with Shopko earlier this year, Herberger’s and Toys R Us last year.

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Night Reporter

Night reporter for The Billings Gazette.