A banner that states “STORE CLOSING SALE” went up on the Peebles building at 119 S. Main St., in Bryan on Wednesday morning, and similar signs were situated in the display cases facing South Main Street. Previous to this, no public notice had been released that Peebles department store was to shutter.
The Bryan Times was informed that employees were told about the closure on Friday, but no official announcement was released by the company — Stage Stores. Peebles was acquired by Stage Stores in 2003. At the time, Peebles, Inc. operated 136 stores in 17 states.
The company currently operates in 42 states through 709 Bealls, Goody’s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage specialty department stores, and 87 Gordmans off-price stores, as well as an e-commerce website at www.stage.com. The department store count includes 18 stores opening as Gordmans off-price stores on March 21, 2019.
The most recent mention of stores closing by the company came in the company’s fourth quarter reports to investors, released on March 7.
That report states the company was in the process of closing 40-60 “underperforming stores,” and converting 70-80 department stores to Gordmans stores.
As of press time, efforts to solicit comments from Stage Store representatives were unanswered. However, this might not be the end of the Peebles story in Bryan.
Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade has been in contact with the corporation and is working to try to keep the store in the city.
“They (Stage Stores) have reached out to the owner of the building, and at one point discussed changing the store,” said Schlade. “At one point they discussed closing everything by January of 2020.
“Thankfully the building owner reached out to us.”
Schlade said in her talks with Stage Store management she pointed out that there were incentives to keeping the Bryan store open that the corporation might not be aware of.
“That area has just been deemed a federally zoned Opportunity Zone,” said Schlade.
With Stage stating that the store would remain open until January, Schlade said the city and economic development partners have an opportunity to work with the company to alter its closure plans, or to shift the conversation and focus on another enterprise for the building.
“Obviously that (the store’s closing) would be a large blow to our downtown,” said Schlade. “There’s been a lot of momentum in the last year towards our downtown. Citizens have re-engaged with that area, and it’s been really fun to see. So, I’m hoping we can continue that momentum and not have something like Peebles leaving happen.”