September 2, 2020


The shopping experience for many Toledoans is yet again about to change.  Depending on your age and personal experiences, the shopping experience can mean different things.  For me personally, I can remember spending Friday nights as a teenager at Southwyck Mall in Toledo, Ohio.  The mall was crowded, smells of hot pretzels and popcorn filled the air, the sound of a  carousel of horses drew little ones to the center of the mall, and the mall’s biggest features included thriving retail stores and movie theatres.  In the 1980s, Southwyck Mall’s anchor stores included Lion’s Store (later becoming Dillards), Montgomery Wards, and Lion’s for the Home.  Trendy stores and shops filled in the interior hallways of the mall  such as Osterman Jewelers, Things Remembered, Coney Island, Doctor X Pets, Hobby Center, Foot Locker, Stride Rite, Lanes (later Rite Aid), Orange Julius, Deb, and Diamond Men’s Store.   Over the last 30 years the indoor mall became less of a destination and our shopping experience has sharply turned to online commerce and shopping complexes where you can park close by.

Welcome to 2020. The emergence of the Coronavirus has harshly effected the retail industry and the way we shop for our goods and services.  At an alarming rate stores are filing for bankruptcy relief due to the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. As millions of Americans have lost their job, disposable income has become sparse and many of our retail favorites have either closed their doors or restructured their business. 


It is reported that over 3,600 companies have filed for bankruptcy relief between January 2020 and June 2020.  Let’s think about that for a second.  That’s 3,600 companies, not individual stores.  For example, JC Penney filed for bankruptcy in May 2020 and it is estimated that 154 of its individual stores will close their doors.  Another example is GNC.  The legendary vitamin source filed bankruptcy in June 2020 and the estimates suggest that about 1,200 of its individual stores will close.  The results are exponential.  Just consider the number of employees who will lose their jobs as a result of two companies filing for bankruptcy relief. Will it be tens of thousands?

The list of 2020 retail bankruptcy casualties is impressive and contains several retail legends that we grew up with.  Here are just a few of the companies who have filed for bankruptcy relief in 2020:

  • Lord & Taylor
  • JC Penney
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Hertz
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Chuck E Cheese
  • New York & Company
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Lane Bryant
  • Men’s Warehouse

While the list of 2020 retail bankruptcy filings rise,  it is important to remember that we are only two-thirds through 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic is still not under control.


Let’s look even more closely at this impressive list of fallen retail giants, more specifically how it affects us consumers. Unfortunately a natural consequence of corporate bankruptcy is job loss, further leading to a rise in personal bankruptcies.  As hard working Ohioans lose their jobs, they are forced to turn to financial survival tools such as Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief helps individuals eliminate one’s unsecured debts, most commonly credit cards, medical bills, vehicle repossessions, home foreclosures, utility arrears, and more.  During a typical year, nearly 4,000 Toledoans file for chapter 7 bankruptcy relief and eliminate many of these eligible debts.  Job loss is one of the top 4 reasons that lead to a personal bankruptcy filing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our shopping experience has dramatically shifted to online retailers.  Many companies who were ill-equipped to make the shift to e-commerce have already closed their doors.  Others continue to hang on with the help of low interest loans from the Small Business Association as well as PPP federal loan programs.  The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we shop for food, clothing, cars, homes, and more.


Everyone hopes that the Coronavirus pandemic will run its course much sooner than later.  Meanwhile, be sure to shop local and support your small business community.  If large retail giants like JC Penney and Chuck E Cheese can be affected, local clothiers and restaurants can be much more vulnerable.  For those of us who are small business owners, look for ways to adapt.  Can your store offer online shopping?  Can your service meet clients over video chatting?  Did you know that there are many payment apps, for example Venmo, that can help with client invoicing and receiving payments?  The web is full of ideas for you to peruse.   Hang in there and stay safe:)

Related Article: By Adam K. Raymond;  Intelligencer, August 3, 2020