UPDATE: January 17, 2020: In a letter to employees, Dominique Schurman, COO of Schurman Retail Group, which owns Papyrus stores, said the company would close its doors. The company has hired liquidation firm Gordon Brothers to assist with the going-out-of-business sales, according to the letter, viewed by Retail Dive.
Schurman cited "current challenges of the retail industry" and said the company had been "diligently working to revitalize our business" for months beforehand. Schurman thanked employees and told them more information would follow "as we navigate this difficult time."
"This decision is heartbreaking for me, personally of course, and also because I know how dedicated you all have been to your stores and this company," Schurman said.
Stationery retailer Papyrus is closing stores around the U.S., with liquidation sales already underway.
The company has not announced the closures publicly, but employees at stores in multiple states confirmed that their stores will close and they have been told to display sale signs. A Retail Dive reporter observed a store in Washington, D.C., with makeshift 20%-off signage throughout the store that noted all sales were final.
The retailer's parent company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Papyrus most recently said on its website it had more than 260 stores.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Retail Dive that the retailer's parent, Schurman Retail Group, is closing Papyrus' entire store fleet, and it has hired a liquidation firm to assist with the sales. A store employee at a New York location confirmed that all Papyrus stores in the state will close.
Store managers were recently told to stop taking inventory and were given packets with details on liquidation sales, a source familiar with the matter told Retail Dive.
It was not immediately clear what the store closures mean for the retailer. Sources who spoke with Retail Dive said they did not know whether the company planned to file for bankruptcy, or what would happen to other units such as Papyrus' e-commerce site and wholesale business, which sells its branded cards to other retail outlets. Some employees Retail Dive spoke with said that they had not yet heard about the closures.
Debtwire reported in November that Papyrus was working to win rent concessions from landlords and could close some stores. Founded in 1950, in a kitchen, Papyrus opened its first store in 1973. Founders Marcel and Margrit Schurman, "had a vision for products of uncompromising quality which provided the starting point from which genuine personal connections are made," according to the brand's website.
Currently led by Dominique Schurman, Schurman Retail says it is a leading retailer of gift and "personal expression" products. Schurman Retail is also home to the Carlton Cards, Paper Thread and American Greetings banners, among others.
The company acquired the American Greetings and Carlton retail banners from American Greetings Corporation for $6 million plus equity in 2009. As part of the deal, Schurman sold its wholesale business to American Greetings. American Greetings Corporation — which last year was acquired by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice — today makes Papyrus and the other brands that fill Schurman's retail stores.
Mall-based specialty retailers have faced numerous challenges, including traffic declines and changing consumer habits. Papyrus' specific category has faced additional disruption from technology. The number of cards sent through the mail has declined over time leading Hallmark Gold Crown stores to nearly halve over the course of a decade, with many blaming the rise of digital communication and e-cards. Things Remembered, another gift specialist, filed for bankruptcy about a year ago and closed a majority of the stores it operated at the time.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included the wrong date for the updated information at the top of the story. The story was updated January 17, 2020.