By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Add Payless Shoes to the list of retailers filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“I think it’s a growing trend that we’ve been seeing, unfortunately,” says Point Park University business professor, Paige Beal.

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Beal says Chapter 11 allows Payless to reorganize without going out of business.

“The ultimate goal for Payless is reduction of debt,” Beal told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday. “They are way in in terms of owing money to their manufacturers in China, and owing money to malls, places where they have store leases. So they have got to reduce their debt. This has been a long-time coming.”

The company also said it will close 400 of its 3,500 stores in the United States.

“I think it’s terrible. I shop here all the time. It’s a great store,” said Barb Jahoda, of Aliquippa.

Jahoda just bought two pairs of shoes at the Payless in Aliquippa, one of six to close here.

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Besides the store in the Aliquippa Shopping Center in Aliquippa, other Payless stores to close are in the Countryside Shopping Center in Mt. Pleasant, the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills in Tarentum, the Morgantown Mall in Morgantown, the Washington Crown Center in Washington, and the store on Wildlife Lodge Road in Lower Burrell.

That still leaves 127 stores open in Pennsylvania, including those in various strip malls and the Mall at Robinson, Monroeville Mall, Ross Park Mall, South Hills Village, and Westmoreland Mall.

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And what about the jobs at the stores that are closing?

The ‘now hiring’ sign at the Payless store in Aliquippa really doesn’t make much sense because this is one of the six stores in the region that is shutting its doors. As for the jobs there, management says the folks here are going to be transferred to other stores.

As for the future of shoe stores, one customer said you need a store to try on shoes.

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“That’s something you can’t do online,” said Ed Pfohl, of Heidelberg.