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Payless ShoeSource is the latest bankruptcy to affect Citrus Heights retail

The Citrus Heights Payless ShoeSource store in Sunrise Mall will be closing amid the company’s bankruptcy. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–`
Over the past three years Citrus Heights has seen Kmart, Sports Authority, Toys R Us, Sears, Aeropostale, Radio Shack, and other stores close amid company bankruptcy filings.

Payless ShoeSource’s bankruptcy filing this month is the latest in store closures affecting retail locations in Citrus Heights, as the face of retail continues to change locally and around the nation.

Some vacancies created by recent bankruptcies have already been filled, with Kmart to be replaced by a Studio Movie Grill and Big Lots store, and the former Toys R Us store on Greenback Lane to be filled by Hobby Lobby. Other former stores have remained dormant though, like the old Sports Authority location in the Birdcage Marketplace that has sat vacant since closing in mid-2016.

Q&A: What’s the latest news on Studio Movie Grill opening in Citrus Heights?

Seeing those vacancies filled is a task the city’s new economic development manager, Meghan Huber, has her eyes on. She was hired by the city last month to replace Devon Rodriguez, who held the position until moving out of state last year.

In an interview with The Sentinel on Friday, Huber described her role as being “all about business attraction, business retention, marketing and startup support.” She said her work will include proactive outreach to attract new businesses to Citrus Heights, as well as reaching out to existing businesses to find out how the city can better help them thrive.

One of the city’s three year goals, adopted in 2017 as part of the city’s strategic plan, is to “diversify for a changing economy.” The City Council also set six-month objectives to further that goal, which includes identifying “health-related businesses to pursue for establishment in Citrus Heights” and processing entitlements for a new 16,000-square-foot surgery center at Stock Ranch and Sylvan Road.

Related: Plans for new surgery center in Citrus Heights move forward

The decline in brick-and-mortar retail is largely attributed to the rise in online shopping, but companies like Hobby Lobby are bucking the trend and continuing to expand while other companies go under. Hobby Lobby announced it is planning to open 65 more stores this year, including its new Citrus Heights store that is expected to open later this year.

Related: Hobby Lobby to fill former Citrus Heights Toys R Us building

The Payless store closures in Citrus Heights will leave vacant storefronts on Greenback Lane next to Burlington Coat Factory and also a vacant 3,200-square-foot space at Sunrise Mall. New owners at the Mall, Namdar Realty Group, have yet to announce whether they have plans to revitalize or redevelop the mall — but Citrus Heights Mayor Jeannie Bruins has expressed hope that the recent change in ownership will bring improvements to the mall.

Bargain hunters will still find plenty of items left on shelves of the mall’s Payless store, as well as the store at 7350 Greenback Ln. A visit to both local stores on Friday found store-wide markdowns of 20 to 40 percent, with the largest discounts on women boots, accessories, and winter-season wear.

Shelves appeared mostly full, with a wide variety of kids, women’s and men’s shoes and sizes available. A clerk at one location said more shipments of items from corporate are still scheduled to arrive.

Payless ShoeSource officially filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 19, following announcement of impending closures of more than 2,100 of its stores in the United States. Liquidation sales at stores began on last Sunday.

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