Illustration: Jovanna Tosello

Pier 1 May Be the Saddest Story of This Bankruptcy Boom

Why J. Crew and Chuck E. Cheese aren’t disappearing, but the retailer behind the papasan chair is

Rob Walker
Published in
14 min readJul 7, 2020


Somewhere around April this year, production of Pier 1 Imports’ famous papasan chairs ceased.

So did everything else in the retailer’s manufacturing supply chain, as the company discontinued all purchase orders early that month. “We didn’t want to impact our vendors by having product in production that we weren’t gonna take,” chief executive Robert Riesbeck tells Marker. Pier 1 will sell the papasan chairs and other products in its stores and distribution centers, aiming to clear every last item in by the fall. And that will be that. The retailer, a familiar presence in strip malls and shopping centers for decades, is liquidating.

A slew of household-name businesses have declared bankruptcy since pandemic-related shutdowns beginning in March gutted the American economy. It’s happened across categories. J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Lucky, Chuck E. Cheese, Hertz, Gold’s Gym, GNC, Neiman Marcus, Le Pain Quotidien, the largest Pizza Hut franchisee, and the list goes on. It’s widely assumed this is just the beginning.

The public square of social media lately has been full of nostalgic and emotional laments for their most…