Fact Check

Are Ames Department Stores Reopening in 2023?

A syndicated local news article said that some people were "skeptical" about the news. We did some digging to look for the truth.

Published Dec. 29, 2022

Updated March 26, 2024
An Ames department store holding a liquidation sale is seen Oct. 18, 2001, in Chicago. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images) (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
An Ames department store holding a liquidation sale is seen Oct. 18, 2001, in Chicago. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Claim:
The Ames department store brand is making a comeback in 2023.

Editor's Note: As of March 2024, no Ames stores reopened by the end of 2023. The fact-check rating of this article was updated from "Unproven" to "False."

In December 2022, we received emails asking us if the Ames department store brand would be reopening in 2023. Ames Department Stores, Inc., previously filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its stores in 2002.

Some news headlines near the end of 2022 reported the news as fact, such as, "Ames Department Stores to Return in 2023." Other headlines showed a more careful approach as a question rather than a statement. We took note of these stories and began our own investigation.

We soon found there were some reasons to believe this news was true. At the same time, we also were puzzled by several things we noticed along the way.

'Returning in Spring 2023'

The rumor about Ames' return appeared to have started after amesstores.com was updated during or before the month of November.

According to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, amesstores.com was the official website for Ames department stores when the company was still in operation from 1996 through 2002.

On Nov. 20, 2022, the Wayback Machine archived amesstores.com for the first time in years. A message on the website read, "Ames Department Stores, Inc. is returning in Spring 2023. Please keep an eye on this website for announcements on which locations are opening first!"

The website was later updated with additional social media links and an email address for press inquiries.

Reaching Out

We contacted the email address on the amesstores.com website. We received a response from a Shannon de Molyneux. Molyneux's email signature mentioned being president of Cross Moline Ventures, "a subsidiary of Molyneux Group."

We replied and asked for documentation that would help to confirm the rumor about Ames department stores returning to U.S. states was true.

In response, Molyneaux sent us some financial documentation from past years appearing to be related to Ames. However, we did not believe this documentation to be conclusive enough to determine whether or not the department store brand truly would be returning.

'Skeptical'

According to a December 2022 article about the Ames rumor that was republished on several local news websites, people had become "skeptical" about the news, purportedly because Cross Moline Ventures had "no website or presence online."

At the time, a website for Cross Moline Ventures did exist on crossmoline.com, albeit with only one accessible page. The website appeared to have been registered on Nov. 14, just a few days before the Wayback Machine archived the announcement on amesstores.com.

As for Molyneux Group, domain records said the U.K.-based website molyneuxgroup.co.uk was registered months earlier on Aug. 8.

On the website, it said Molyneux Group was "a family owned enterprise since 1640." However, the bottom of the page showed a footer appearing to say the company was founded in 1900.

We attempted to contact Molyneux Group's press inquiries team with an email address listed on the website. However, we immediately received an error response saying the email address was not active. We received the same error response again when contacting the listed email address for customer support.

We also called Molyneux Group's phone number listed on the website, but repeatedly received a busy signal. Additionally, we noticed the Facebook page linked on the website did not exist.

All of these issues with the Molyneux Group website did not mean the rumor of Ames department stores returning in the U.S. was not true. However, they were definitely a bit strange, to say the least.

Note: We confirmed by email the slightly different spelling of Molyneaux Group on molyneauxgroup.com had nothing to do with any of this, as confirmed by a new release on the U.S.-based company's website.

'No Reliable Sources'

On the Wikipedia page for Ames department stores, we noticed the "view history" page (which displayed the page's edits) showed quite the battle happening in late 2022 between users who were attempting to add and remove content.

On Nov. 20, one user added to the Wikipedia page, "Ames announced they are reopening in 2023!" However, the edit was removed the next day, with a user commenting, "There are NO credible sources available."

Other users continued to try to add the unconfirmed news in subsequent weeks. "There are no reliable sources for a relaunch of the brand," an editor posted, after removing newly added content. Days later, another user posted, "STOP EDITING REMOVALS." The back-and-forth continued for more than a month.

As of Dec. 29, the only source listed on the page was the announcement on amesstores.com.

We don't usually use Wikipedia as a source, since its entries are built from other sources. However, in this case, we thought these user exchanges were noteworthy.

June 2023 Statement

On June 21, 2023, the first day of summer, amesstores.com was updated with a statement after the Ames department store brand had not returned in the spring, as promised. (In previous weeks, the Twitter account for @amesstores had tweeted about "website issues.")

"We would like to address our valued stakeholders and the Ames community regarding recent developments within our organization," the statement read. "It is with a mix of regret and determination that we announce the voluntary resignation of several members from the Ames board due to the mismanagement that has affected our company."

The statement also said Molyneux was being appointed as the president of Ames, and that the brand would "emerge stronger than ever." However, a new reopening timeline was not announced.

Since the release of the statement, we've found numerous tweets where users believed the claim that Ames would be returning to be an elaborate hoax. For example, one person tweeted, "At some point, please reveal yourself just so we can see the face behind this hoax. Not even mad - just curious if you're a 15-year-old or something."

In July 2023, we updated this fact-check claim's rating from "Research In Progress" to "Unproven." We made this change based upon several factors. First, a June 2023 email sent to Molyneux went unanswered. Second, crossmoline.com and molyneuxgroup.co.uk appeared to no longer be accessible. Third, and most important, this rumor had lingered for many months with no conclusive data to show Ames truly would be returning.

Then, in March 2024, the fact-check rating was yet again changed to "False," as Ames stores had not returned in 2023.

Sources

Ames. https://amesstores.com.

Cross Moline Ventures. https://crossmoline.com/.

Day, Sherri. "Ames to Liquidate and Close Stores." The New York Times, 15 Aug. 2002, https://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/15/business/ames-to-liquidate-and-close-stores.html.

Doiron, Sarah. "Ames Department Stores to Return in 2023." WTNH.com, 27 Dec. 2022, https://www.wtnh.com/news/ames-department-stores-to-return-in-2023/.

Levine, Molly. "NBC 10 Digs Deeper into Claims about Resurrection of Ames Stores." WJAR, 27 Dec. 2022, https://turnto10.com/news/local/ames-department-stores-resurrection-connecticut-new-york-pennsylvania-rhode-island-molyneux-group-cross-moline-ventures-december-27-2022.

Marrie, Aaron. "Is Ames Department Store Coming Back to PA?" WKBN.com, 29 Dec. 2022, https://www.wkbn.com/news/pennsylvania/is-ames-department-store-coming-back-to-pa/.

Molyneux Group – UK. https://molyneuxgroup.co.uk/.

"Wayback Machine." Internet Archive, https://web.archive.org/.

Updates

July 7, 2023: This report was updated to change the fact-check rating from "Research In Progess" to "Unproven," as no conclusive data had yet been presented that would allow us to make a more firm determination regarding whether Ames truly would be returning and reopening in the future.

March 26, 2024: This report was updated from "Unproven" to "False," due to the fact that Ames did not return in 2023.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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