• Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.

Payless Shoe Store Opens Store in Guyana

September 17, 2021

On September 15, 2021, Payless opened its first shoe store in Guyana at MovieTowne Mall in Georgetown. The major foreign investment is lauded to bring employment and money to the locals.

The new Payless store also highlights the need for the local government and population to be prudent in its legal dealings with foreign investors. Proper legal analysis is encouraged to reduce the risks of exploitation.

Payless's Background & Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Explained

Payless has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice. First in 2017 and then again in 2019. It closed all of its U.S. stores but started reopening the U.S. stores in 2021. The American flagship store is in North Miami.

Payless did not liquidate all of its assets in the bankruptcy. On August 12, 2019, Payless filed its Disclosure Statement and Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization. These documents explain how Payless intends to reorganize its debts and pay its creditors. When a debtor files for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, the debtor often works with the largest creditors to garner their votes on the Plan. A debtor must have a specific amount of votes from creditors on its Plan for the Court to confirm the Plan.

Caution Regarding Foreign Interest in Guyana

The Caribbean has attracted foreign interest for hundreds of years. Some of the earliest explorations involved the quest to find the city of gold, “El Dorado.” The gold eluded the European nations but they did colonize the region to harvest sugar. The British, mainly, imported Africans for slave labor and, after abolition, Indians for indentured servant labor.

The determining factor for foreign involvement in the Caribbean appeared to have always been linked to economic profitability. And so when cane sugar in the Caribbean was replaced by European beet sugar in international markets, colonial powers were less interested in the region and allowed many nations to govern their own affairs independently. Recent developments suggest that the tide may be turning once again to dominant outside influence in the Caribbean.

ExxonMobile, America’s largest oil company, initially discovered crude oil off of Guyana’s coast in 2015. Since then, there have been 16 extraordinary oil finds. Five of the six largest oil discoveries in 2019 were in Guyana.

Exxon and Guyana’s oil deal raises concerns as to whether the contract is disproportionately in favor of Exxon to the extreme disadvantage of Guyana and its people. Of note, the parties entered into the oil contract and three days later Exxon announced a major discovery. Some claim that Exxon purposely withheld evidence of the find to minimize Guyana’s negotiating power. The deal was also made hastily during heightened tensions with Venezuela over the Venezuela-Guyana border, with hopes that Exxon’s presence would deter Venezuela’s attempts to expand their borders. As a result, Guyana would receive a below-average share in oil production in the amount of $55 billion dollars. Renegotiation, accordingly, would attract an unprecedented amount of investors.

Neighboring nations are also likely to benefit from the emerging energy industries in Guyana. Investors, including large hotel chains, have been prospecting for lucrative opportunities. Increased tourism in Guyana can in turn increase interest in tourism for neighboring countries. In addition, Caribbean businesses throughout the West Indies and United States could see an increase in value by virtue of their proximity to, and insight of, Caribbean culture and economy, including roti shops, promoters, DJs, tour guides, and social media businesses.

Therefore, both businesses in the Caribbean and businesses owned by Caribbeans/Caribbean descendants are now encouraged to solidify their legal rights in order to protect the value of their business in the future.

Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trial-winning business and trademark attorney. She primarily helps new and small businesses with trademarks, formation, and name clearance searches. She writes articles on the importance of trademarks, trademark law updates, and also West Indian history (with an emphasis on India, Trinidad, Guyana, and the United States).

MDGR Law, P.A.

PO Box 101794 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310-1794

(754) 800-4481



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