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Stein Mart in Florence closing as chain goes bankrupt
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Stein Mart in Florence closing as chain goes bankrupt

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Stein Mart closing in Florence

The sign in front of the Stein Mart at Florence Mall said "Store closing" on Wednesday. The chain announced it is filing for bankruptcy.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — National discount department store chain Stein Mart filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday after 112 years in business and announced that it will close most, if not all, of its 280 stores.

That will include one at Florence Mall.

“The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business," wrote Chief Executive Officer Hunt Hawkins in a news release. “The Company lacks sufficient liquidity to continue operating in the ordinary course of business.”

Employees at Stein Mart at the Florence Mall found out Wednesday that the store will be closing, said Josh Fountain, store manager. He said they were shocked.

He said a date for the closure has not been announced. Goods in all departments are 10 percent off, except for the men’s department where everything is 30 percent off. Fountain said sales will be ongoing until they close.

The store was closed for approximately one month due to the coronavirus, Fountain said.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Stein Mart has more than 280 stores in 30 states specializing in clothing, shoes and housewares at discount prices. Many of the stores are located in community shopping centers. As of May 30, the company employed about 8,400 people.

Hunt said Stein Mart will continue to operate normally “in the near term” and is evaluating the potential sale of its eCommerce business. A going-out-of-business sale will begin Friday or Saturday, according to spokeswoman Linda Tasseff, who said she anticipates all stores will close by the fourth quarter of 2020, with closing dates varying by store.

Stein Mart closed its businesses in mid-March because of the pandemic. It began reopening in April, and eventually reopened all of its stores with reduced hours. It borrowed $10 million in June under the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The company first started doing business in 1908, in Mississippi.

More then 40 retailers have filed for Chapter 11 this year, including more than two dozen retailers who filed since the pandemic began. Last year, 23 retailers filed for Chapter 11.

Among them: America’s oldest retailer, Lord & Taylor; J. Crew; J.C. Penney; Neiman Marcus; Men’s Wearhouse; Jos. A. Bank; Stage Stores; and Ascena Retail Group, which owns Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor.

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