Founded by Cousins Louis and Shaol Pozez in 1956 in Topeka, Kansas, Payless Shoesource began had the unique idea to sell quality, well-made shoes at prices that were affordable to the average family. In addition to their focus on the budget-conscious customer, Payless also used a revolutionary selling model – “self-select,” where the customer chooses and tries on shoes directly from the store displays. Carrying casual footwear, boots, athletic, and dress shoes, the stores have also expanded to accessories.
More than 50 years later, Payless continues the self-select model combined with leading customer service to provide a fun and engaging shopping experience for its customers. Sticking with this large, niche consumer base helped the brand grow and continues to be the company’s cornerstone. The company has both company-owned store and franchisee-owned store models with 175 franchised stores located primarily in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
Payless acquired the Stride Rite company in 2007 and became Collective Brands. In 2012, the company became privately held and is owned by Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital Partners. The international business arm has outperformed the domestic company enterprise in the past several years.
Payless employs more than 25,000 associates worldwide. Global opportunities abound with more than 4,400 stores in over 30 countries. The company stresses the “culture” that its employees have created with goals of providing a “diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace.” Job opportunities can be found in the corporate office, retail stores, and the distribution centers. Payless offers college programs, specialized Corporate Career Possibilities (CCP) training programs, and a Business Leadership Program (BLP) for employees.
- The Payless Shoesource Foundation supports children and families in need and holds an annual Holiday Family Adoption program at the company headquarters.
- Payless offers its employees a full array of benefits, even including adoption assistance.
- North American Payless stores stock more than 6,600 shoes in over 500 styles. One style, popularized in the 1980s was Pro Wings, a line of sneakers with Velcro closures.
- Although the company carries shoes for men, women, and children, the Payless Shoesource target consumer demographic is women from 18 to 49.