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No Fear to go belly up?
It's name is No Fear, but it's getting another reputation in local malls: No Rent.

The casual clothing company from Carlsbad, California who was once big in racing apparel has been sued by several Southern California shopping malls for falling months - and tens of thousands of dollars - behind in rent for its retail outlets.

An attorney for No Fear Retail Stores Inc. blamed the late payments on the sour economy and said the company was working with shopping centers to renegotiate leases that were signed when the future looked brighter.

"Like nearly all U.S. specialty apparel retailers, No Fear has been hammered by the economic downturn. In response, we have worked hard to reduce operating costs, including leasing costs," said Scott Benjamin, No Fear's general counsel.

Among the malls that have taken No Fear to court are the Irvine Spectrum and Block at Orange, both of which filed lawsuits in Orange County Superior Court; and shopping centers in Arcadia, West Covina and Valencia, which filed suits in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Irvine Co., which owns the Spectrum, obtained a judgment against No Fear in October after the retailer failed to defend a lawsuit that said it was $49,000 behind in rent. The judgment opened the door for an eviction, but an Irvine Co. spokeswoman said the No Fear store at the Spectrum is still open. The clothing company settled each of the Los Angeles County lawsuits out of court.

No Fear exploded in popularity in the 1990s with T-shirts bearing slogans such as "Drive it like you stole it" and "Life's not too short, it's just that you're dead for so long."

But the privately held company has had difficulty sustaining its growth because of the recession and intense competition in the active-sportswear industry, said analyst Mitchell Kummetz of Robert W. Baird & Co. More at LA Times
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