Gordmans opening

Customers line up outside in anticipation of the opening of Gordmans on North Center Avenue in Somerset Township on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.

Just three months after opening its doors to a line of eager customers in Somerset Township, Gordmans will reopen again within the next two weeks, its parent company has announced.

Only this time, it will be to close the store – unless a buyer is found.

Battered by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic “challenges,” Houston-based Stage Stores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the weekend and announced immediate plans to begin liquidating its stores’ inventory in the weeks ahead.

More than 550 of its 700 stores – most of them in the southern U.S. – opened Friday. The rest, which includes newly upgraded stores in Somerset, St. Marys, Clarion and Clearfield – will all begin liquidating between May 28 and June 4, the company indicated.

“This is a very difficult announcement and it was a decision that we reached only after exhausting every possible alternative,” Stage Stores CEO Michael Glaser said in a release to media.

Last year, the company acquired dozens of former Peebles Stores and rebranded them under the Gordmans name, which has been well-known for years in the southwest.

The Somerset location opened with fanfare and giveaways on Feb. 18 – just weeks before the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“It’s crazy,” Somerset Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ron Aldom said. “It seemed like they really started off with a bang in February. Their people seemed really happy with the way things were going.”

And then, “the whole world changed,” he added.

Aldom said he – and Somerset County’s faithful “brick and mortar shoppers” – can only hope another retail buyer will step in and acquire the locations.

“I know the retail market is in tough shape. But this is tough for us because, around here, I think most people still want the brick and mortar experience.  And that (Gordmans) store seemed like it offered a better shopping experience that we haven’t had here in awhile.”

Aldom said he hasn’t heard anything official on plans for the store, but said he’s been following the news online.

In a statement posted on its website this week, Stage Store officials said they will “simultaneously solicit bids for a going concern sale of the Company or any of its assets” while winding down its stores.

Once a store opens, the company will honor gift cards for 30 days – even as liquidation sales at “deep” discounts are underway.

The company outlined its current plans in a FAQ to customers posted here: www.gordmans.com/faqs

“We hope that our efforts to reposition the business over the last several months will help attract the right partner who is interested in our off-price concept,” Glaser wrote.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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