Gordmans closing, J.C. Penney's future uncertain

The Clarion Mall has been closed since Gov. Tom Wolf issued his order closing non-essential businesses. Several businesses with an outside entrance have been able to re-open however.

CLARION - The Clarion Mall is closed, but when it reopens it could look very different. Two of the major retailers at the mall are temporarily closed, and they might not reopen at all.

According to a news service report, Gordmans, which opened just last fall in Clarion, will liquidate store inventory as the store's parent company, Stage Stores Inc., is filing for bankruptcy.

On May 10, Stage Stores, the Houston-based company that operates hundreds of stores across the nation under the Stage, Peebles, Gordmans, Bealls, Palais Royal and Goody's nameplates, announced the company has filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

According to the news report, the company will simultaneously solicit bids for a going concern sale of the business or any assets and initiate an operations wind-down.

The company will terminate the wind-down at certain locations if it receives a viable going-concern bid.

Michael Glazer, president and CEO, said, the current market environment was "exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic," the news report said.

According to Gordmans' website, select stores have begun to reopen in phases, but the Clarion store is not on the list of locations currently reopened.

The future of the J.C. Penney store at the mall also is uncertain, as JCP filed for bankruptcy on Friday. News service stories said the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a serious blow to the 118-year-old company.

According to those news reports, the company said it has an agreement with most of its lenders on the turnaround plan that will allow it to stay in business as a more financially healthy company, but will include closing as yet an unannounced number of its 846 stores.

J.C. Penney is the fourth national retailer to file for bankruptcy just this month. J, Crew, Neiman Marcus and Stage Stores all filed for bankruptcy in May.

Although both Gordmans and J.C. Penney at the Clarion Mall were closed Monday, there are other businesses operating.

"We are still not permitted to open the front doors yet," Clarion Mall General Manager Denny Hill said. "We have always had staff on-site because of the essential businesses. We do have businesses that are open with outside entrances."

Those businesses include Cricket Wireless, Holiday Financial, American Renal, Meadows, UPMC, Anderson Physical Therapy and the U.S. Army Recruiting Center on a limited basis.

"We hope to reopen any day but we haven't heard anything yet," Hill said. "We are just keeping things going and taking care of the facility."