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Wet Seal closing all five Valley stores

Teen clothing store Wet Seal is closing all its stores nationwide. The Fashion Fair store, photographed here in January 2015, is among them.
Teen clothing store Wet Seal is closing all its stores nationwide. The Fashion Fair store, photographed here in January 2015, is among them. bclough@fresnobee.com

Another mall retailer is calling it quits.

Longtime teen clothing mainstay Wet Seal is closing all of its more than 170 stores nationwide, including five stores in the Valley, according to several reputable media outlets.

The bankrupt seller of ripped jeans, fringed panchos and other teen basics has stores at Fashion Fair and River Park in Fresno, and one each in the Visalia Mall, Hanford Mall and Merced Mall.

Employees at two stores confirmed the closures, but it wasn’t clear when they would close.

Wet Seal filed a notice with the state that 148 workers at its corporate headquarters in Irvine would lose their jobs because of permanent closure.

Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy about a year ago, closing two-thirds of its stores at the time. That included two experimental plus-sizes stores in the Valley called Wet Seal +, one in the Clovis Crossing Regional Shopping Center and another in Visalia’s Packwood Creek West Shopping Center.

Like many Valley mall retailers closing stores and filing for bankruptcy, Wet Seal has struggled in recent years.

Experts blame the shrinking middle class, tough competition from low-priced stores like Forever 21 and H&M, changing tastes, and teens spending their money on iPhones and other technologies instead of clothing.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wet Seal was considering a sale, liquidation or restructuring. A letter obtained by the news outlet said the company could not find a partner or money to continue its operations.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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