If Detroit Lakes residents still aren't over Kmart closing, they certainly won't be ready to stomach the next bit of news: Vanity has announced it will be closing all locations, meaning the Washington Square Mall will be losing another of its original stores after seeing Dairy Queen move to McKinley Plaza.

According to a press release, Vanity Shop of Grand Forks Inc., which is headquartered in Fargo and operates its stores under the name Vanity, is seeking Chapter 11 protection, according to a voluntary petition for relief filed Wednesday, March 1-a long-winded way to say the company has filed for bankruptcy protection.

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The loss of the roughly 140 stores across 27 states will affect 1,200 to 1,400 employees, according to CEO and President Mickey Quinn, who added that stores will remain open to sell off remaining inventory.

"These sales will provide Vanity's existing and new customers with outstanding shopping opportunities," stated a press release. "Vanity anticipates it will continue to honor Vanity gift cards during the store closing process."

The stores are expected to be emptied and vanished by late-March, mid-April.

The Chapter 11 the company filed allows businesses and consumers to reorganize through a court-approved plan. The move gives a company relief from the threat of creditors' lawsuits as it reorganizes, but the plan must be accepted by a majority of creditors.

Board Chairman Jim Bennett said it's a decision the privately held company came to in February.

"It's been a very difficult retail sector in the last three to four years, and it just isn't sustainable for us," he said.

Quinn said customer surveys conducted by the National Retail Federation have shown the increasing hardships of retail stores operating in malls. While shoppers used to visit a mall multiple times each month, going into seven to 10 stores during each trip, they now only go maybe once a month to three to five stores.

"The whole industry change is across the whole U.S., and it's impacting all retailers," she said.

As for hurting retailers, Vanity is in good company: JCPenney has also announced the closure of 140 stores across the nation, but whether or not Detroit Lakes residents will have another store to grieve the loss of is yet to be determined.

 

(Ryan Johnson of the Fargo Forum contributed to this report.)