The discount retailer Stein Mart just announced it has filed for bankruptcy and plans on closing most of its nearly 300 stores.
Stein Mart has been around for 112 years. But on Wednesday, the company announced the chapter 11 filing, siting changing consumer habits and the coronavirus causing “significant financial stress”.
But in Greenville, Stein Mart is more than just a department store.
Benjy Nelken, owner and curator of the Greenville Histoy Museum grew up with the Stein family.
”Stein Mart was never just a store it was an experience it really was for everybody for all the citizens of Greenville and probably all the citizens from the ArkLaMiss,” he said.
With only Goodman’s being around longer, it’s been a staple business for the Delta.
The very first Stein Mart store was built right here in Downtown Greenville in 1908 where shoppers from all over the ArkLaMiss came to shop on Washington Avenue.
Goodman’s recently closed earlier this year and will be under new ownership. Rebecca Goodman said Bernie Goodman and Jake Stein were good buddies throughout the years making sure Greenville had a thriving downtown business district, and says she hates to see the chain file for bankruptcy.
Another Greenville staple J’s Hub has been in business for 66 years. It, Stein Mart and Goodman’s made up the main shopping hub of downtown Greenville.
J's Hub owner, Barry Piltz said Greenville is very proud of Stein Mart's roots.
“People would be talking in conversations outside of Greenville and Stein Mart would come up in the conversation invariably the person from Greenville who was in that conversation with pride would say 'well Stein mart started in Greenville, Mississippi' and you get a response like 'oh no way Greenville?' Yeah it started in Greenville, Mississippi right in the 200 block of Washington avenue,” he said.
Residents were just as sad to learn the news. On Facebook viewers expressing their feelings saying things like “I grew up at that place” and saying they had fond memories of the store as a child.
“It’s going to be a loss and the presence of the steins, the stein family and the stein retailer is gone and the end of an era,” said Nelken.
In a statement stein mart says it will operate as normal in the near term.. And will sell off it assets in an organized going outside of business sale...