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Jobs lost as struggling national fashion chain shuts 7 Minnesota stores

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A number of Minnesota shop workers have lost their jobs after a national teen clothing retailer abruptly closed hundreds of stores.

The Associated Press reports that Wet Seal is closing 338 stores – about two-thirds of its total locations – with almost 3,700 full and part-time staff laid off.

These include metro area stores in Rosedale, Southdale, Maplewood Hall, Burnsville Center, as well as those in the Crossroads Center, St. Cloud, Miller Hill Mall in Duluth and Apache Mall in Rochester, according to the Star Tribune.

The newspaper notes that these stores closed down on Tuesday, but that stores in the Mall of America and Shoppes at Arbor Lakes will remain open.

The AP suggests the California-based chain has struggled in the face of competition from cut-price retailers like H&M and Forever 21, which have increased their presence in the teen clothing market.

In a statement on the Wet Seal website, CEO Ed Thomas said: "This is an extremely difficult time for the entire Wet Seal team, and we are doing everything we can to protect the interests of all of our stakeholders, including our employees.

"We acknowledge and sympathize with how hard these recent events have been on our employees, both those staying with the company and especially those who are leaving the company this week."

The nationwide store closures sparked fury among employees, who say they were given little to zero notice they were about to lose their jobs.

Employees instigated a widespread campaign that involved placing "mission statement" banners in Wet Seal shop windows criticizing the company's handling of the store closures, and accusing it of failing to pay them for unused vacation or sick time.

The campaign went viral, with more than 6,500 comments being posted on one Reddit thread alone, and pictures of store banners from all over the United States shared across social media.

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