[UPDATED] Shoe Companies Resolve to Rebuild, Reopen in Baltimore

Baltimore Riots Shop Front
A destroyed storefront in Baltimore.
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UPDATE: Payless ShoeSource Addresses Impact on its Stores (May 1)

Payless ShoeSource told FN today that seven of its Baltimore-area stores were affected by the Baltimore riots and that its location in Mondawmin Mall — the area where sources say much of the unrest began — remains closed.

The company provided the following statement to FN:

“Seven of Payless’ retail stores were impacted by the civil events in Baltimore from April 23 to April 30. The impact involved both partial and full-day closings based on police and landlord recommendations and civil orders. There has been no damage to any Payless property and all associates have traveled safely to and from the store locations. All stores in the Baltimore area are open today, with the exception of the Mondawmin Mall location.”

What We Reported Yesterday

In the aftermath of riots that left many businesses across the Baltimore City area looted and destroyed, resilience has been the mantra of shoe companies, that say they intend to rebuild and reopen in the city.

“We have no reservations at all about reopening in Baltimore,” said Jeff Bowden, marketing community director for DTLR. “The rioting and looting activity has not deterred us at all — this has only strengthened our resolve to do more outreach in the community we serve.”

Bowden echoed the sentiments of managers at 66-year-old Baltimore-based footwear retailer Shoe City, who also said they plan to continue to operate in the city, which has been gripped by unrest following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died of injuries sustained while in police custody.

Seven of Shoe City’s 14 Baltimore-area locations were vandalized, including an Erdman Avenue location that was scheduled to open yesterday, Shoe City President Greg Greenberg told FN.

Meanwhile, Bowden said six of DTLR’s 13 metro-Baltimore locations were targeted by looters and rioters — one store was burned, another completely gutted, the others suffering mostly theft — and that the company is in the process of having the financial implications assessed by its insurance company.

“The important thing is that we were able to get all of our employees out of the stores safely,” said Bowden.

Although some retailers have reported experiencing resistance from employees who fear returning to devastated store locations, Greenberg described Shoe City’s employees as “dedicated and resilient.”

Since all seven of Shoe City’s vandalized stores are closed, Greenberg said employees have been placed in other stores in the meantime.

“No one will be losing hours,” Greenberg said.

DTLR’s management has also strategized to ensure that its employees’ pockets don’t take a hit.

“Right now, our employees [who worked at the vandalized locations] are helping with the cleanup of the stores,” said Bowden. “Until we get those stores reopened, we will try to keep our employees as busy as we can so that they don’t lose hours.”

Employees collaborate to clean up a vandalized DTLR store in Baltimore's Church Square. Employees collaborate to clean up a vandalized DTLR store in Baltimore’s Church Square. Courtesy of DTLR

Greenberg said that some Shoe City stores will take a week to get back up and running, while others could take approximately a month, depending on the damages.

Bowden does not have a definite timeline for reopening the damaged DTLR locations but hopes that it will be sooner rather than later.

“What has transpired just shows us that our community needs us even more and that we need to do even more outreach in the areas we serve,” said Bowden. “We hope to not only reopen our stores but to revitalize. This is why we are in these communities — to serve and to be a guiding light.”