New Jersey

NJ Couple Buys Out Payless Store, Then Donates All the Shoes to a Women's Shelter

Susan Cook and Patrick Riordan spent $247 to buy all 247 pairs of shoes left in a Payless store. The shoe chain is going out of business. They then made a huge charitable donation

A New Jersey couple had a humble idea when they stumbled across a Payless store last month: buy all 247 pairs of shoes and donate them to women and children in need.

The shoe retailer filed for bankruptcy in February this year and most stores were expected to close by the end of May.

But Susan Cook and Patrick Riordan found a Payless store still open while shopping June 22 at the Hamilton Marketplace in Mercer County, New Jersey.

The posters plastered on the windows read: "Everything $3."

Then came an even better deal.

As the couple paid for some shoes for their grandchildren, the Payless cashier mentioned that the staff was hoping to close the store once and for all that day.

"You want to close today right? How much would it be if we bought everything in this store?” Riordan asked.

The store manager offered to sell the couple everything for $1 each.

Merchandise ranged from $40 kids' sneakers to $60 work boots, $5 water shoes, different tights, $30 slippers and more – all for $1 each.

"It took a while and a couple transactions,” Cook said of the multiple receipts it took. Not all the purchases could fit on one.

Cook and Riordan donated them to Womanspace, a shelter and rehabilitation program in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, that serves families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

"It’s a really wonderful organization and we were really blessed to be able to help them,” Riordan said.

The pair as well as Cook’s daughter, Rachel, needed two cars to haul all 11 bags of shoes home.

After they coordinated with the shelter, the two donated the merchandise July 10.

"Thank you to our 'Payless family,'" Womanspace wrote in a Facebook post on July 17. "It is generosity like that which allows us to provide for the hundreds of families that reside in our programs.”

The couple estimated that the original price of all the merchandise would be $5,000.

They hope that their donation will inspire other people to give back, too.

"You don’t have to spend $1,000. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a little human compassion and consideration for somebody else," Cook said. "That’s what matters."

In May, an Arkansas mother of three also put her best foot forward and bought out all the shoes at a closing Payless store. Carrie Jernigan told NBC News she was at an Alma store's close-out sale when her daughter saw a pair she wanted to buy for a friend at school because she had noticed that his were too small.

Not knowing what size her daughter's friend wore, Jernigan jokingly asked how much it would be to buy out the rest of the store. Jernigan's ended up buying 1,500 pairs of shoes, in sizes ranging from infants to a men’s 13.

Word of the good deed spread and others stepped in to help. Now, the community is holding a back-to-school bash before classes begin, offering backpacks, free haircuts, eye exams and other things kids may need for the new school year.

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