WINCHESTER — International shoe and clothing accessory retailer Payless ShoeSource is reportedly considering bankruptcy and the closure of 500 stores, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

It’s not known which stores might close. There are two Payless stores in Winchester — one in Apple Blossom Mall, the other at 2229 Valley Ave.

“The company declines comment,” Meghan Spreer, an analyst and communications officer for Topeka, Kan.-based Payless, said Thursday.

Larry Nelson, general manager of Apple Blossom Mall, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. An employee at the Valley Avenue store declined to comment, referring questions to the company’s corporate office.

The Valley Avenue location is in a shopping center owned by Winchester-based HWA Enterprises. The shopping center is split into three parcels, according to city tax records. The parcel holding Payless is 4,000 square feet on about .3 acres. It has an assessed value of $388,300.

No one from HWA returned a call for comment on Thursday.

Payless ShoeSource is a publicly traded company founded in 1956. It employs about 22,000 people, according to its website, and operates 4,000 stores in 30 countries.

According to Bloomberg, Payless has struggled with competition from the internet and a glut of other low-cost market shoe retailers.

— Contact Onofrio Castiglia at ocastiglia@winchesterstar.com

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