By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

Shoe City is closing the doors of its 39 stores across the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. area after more than 70 years in business. The family-owned urban footwear retailer, also known as YCMC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. The business reports that they currently have $16 million in outstanding debt. 

The shoe store also owes more than $3 million on a $10 million loan from Truist Bank. 

Shoe City issued a statement on its website to inform customers about the cease of operations.

“We have made the difficult decision to cease operations for YCMC,” read the statement. “Order previously placed will be processed and shipped provided the merchandise is available. We will continue to process any and all returns from orders placed prior to this announcement.” 

Shoe City’s roots began in Baltimore when it opened in 1949 as Eileen Shoes on Monument Street. Then, in 1980, the footwear company rebranded and began using the moniker, Shoe City. 

Today, the retailer is known for selling footwear, apparel and accessories from well-known athletic brands, like Nike, Adidas and Puma. However, over the last few years, Shoe City has experienced a decline in sales and net profit.  

According to court documents, the company’s operating losses were $280,000 and $1.76 million in 2020 and 2021 respectively.  In 2020, Shoe City also began receiving less high-end products and new sneaker releases from vendors, according to the first-day declaration. 

During the spring of 2022—in an effort to address its financial woes—Shoe City forged a deal with the Arklyz Group, which sought to expand its North American footprint, to acquire the footwear company, but the deal fell through. 

Most recently, Shoe City lost its top shoe vendor in March, according to court documents, and other vendors started requiring the footwear company to send a cash advance before shipping products to its stores. 

“I think it’s a bummer for the area,” said Chris Bolden, a D.C. resident. “They were big in the area, and they really helped the community out.”

Bolden is the owner of ICE ENT Apparel, a brand he started to honor his younger brother who was murdered in 2016. Much of his clothing displays the saying, “spread the love,” promoting an end to violence in communities. 

Back in 2021, Bolden came across a social media post from Shoe City looking for new brands to introduce in its stores. The Northeast D.C. native said he wasn’t sure if the inquiry was legitimate, but he took a chance anyway. 

A few weeks later, Shoe City reached out to him to schedule a business meeting, and the footwear company offered him a spot in the store. 

“I first saw my clothing in Prince George’s Mall. That’s the mall I grew up in, and I have gone to that mall for the last however many years,” said Bolden. “To see my face on the front of Shoe City was such a big deal to me, and it was also a big deal to the people who had been watching me from my first shirt to my first store.”

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.