Forever 21 faces bankruptcy

Forever 21, located in The Shops at Mission Viejo, includes deep sales to compensate for corporate woes. (Dylan Robinson/Lariat)

Forever 21 has filed for bankruptcy at the tail-end of September, noting that about one-third of the stores in the US will potentially be closing by the end of 2019. It is the end of an era in retail as the company of a 35-year legacy looks on to greener pastures in tightening their focus on a smaller number of stores worldwide.

Up to 178 stores in the US and 350 globally will see possible closure at the year’s end, according to a statement released by Forever 21 reported by CNBC. On the list, many California locations are mentioned, yet the local Forever 21 at The Shops at Mission Viejo dodged the list in this release.

While it is safe for now to the public eye, concern can still be felt company-wide in the local shop as sale signs line sections of the store. Items marked down half-off are available to customers and clothes once going for $40, and above see substantial discounts as well.

Shopping fever has never been better at the store, yet the question remains of the fate for Mission Viejo’s very own Forever 21.

Windsor employee and Forever 21 customer, Leticia Martinez, wonders what could occupy the space if the store were to close. “The store itself right now in the mall is a big space,” Martinez said. “People will kill themselves just to buy that space.”

Given that Mission Viejo Mall’s Forever 21 is two-stories and has an outside-accessible entrance leading to the more massive mall, it is a significant offering to mall-goers. 

The only other stores to share a similar entrance/exit route to the mall are Macy’s and Nordstrom. So the space is highly valuable to whoever may purchase it following the store’s potential closure. 

Tonia Bouyakzan, an employee of the mall itself, does not have many feelings towards the recent news, as her position is not affected. However, she believes customer traffic in her area of the mall may be different. “In terms of where I work in front of the store [Forever 21], I direct my customers here by telling them I’m near the store,” Bouyakzan said.

Mall customer traffic and parking will be impacted simply due to the space being empty.

“I definitely think people will be upset about it as a lot of younger teens go here,” said customer Annalese Von Gremp. “It’s the most popular store for them, so they’ll have to find another store cheaper in certain aspects.”

Von Gremp’s friend, McKenna Anderson, mentions how the options Forever 21 offers for groups of people often overlooked in fashion will be missed among mall patrons. “Especially because there are options for kids and men with different departments for things,” Anderson said. “They have a plus section, and it’s hard because a lot of stores don’t have that much variety.”

Although Anderson and Von Gremp are a small facet of the many visitors of Forever 21, they note how the youth might seek other places for their fashion fix.

“There definitely are other stores that attract people like older women for Victoria’s Secret, but the youth will probably go less and go to the Spectrum [Irvine] or the Outlets [San Clemente],” Von Gremp said. 

“I feel like it’s going to be hard because I don’t know what they would put here,” Anderson said. “I don’t think it would be as cheap an option as Forever 21 is.”

When approached for comment on the bankruptcy news, a Forever 21 employee declined to comment.

Whatever fate befalls the Mission Viejo branch of Forever 21, clearly, it has established a reputation among mall visitors as the store to go to for quick and cheap fashion finds. 

Further word is waiting on whether the Mission Viejo location will follow suit of the other 178 US stores. For now, mall patrons can expect to continue satiating their shopping fix. The current pricing sales will definitely attract many visitors in the weeks to come