The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported Tuesday that Dots has filed for Chapter 11 protection and closed 30 under-performing stores, while it seeks a buyer to help restructure its debt.
The company employs about 4,000 workers, including 200 at its headquarters in Glenwillow, Ohio.
Most of its stores are in the Midwest, East and Southeast.
When it opened its new headquarters in 2009, Rick Bunka, then the firm's president, said the plan was to build up a business with 1,000 stores.
That plan has not materialized.
"The filing is the best option available to restructure certain operations, preserve the business as a going concern and maximize the value of the enterprise by pursuing a sale," said Dots' Chief Executive Officer Lisa Rhodes in a statement.
"We are in the process of turning the business around, and the filing is another step toward doing that," she said.
The Plain Dealer said Dots has secured $36 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Salus Capital, which is intended to keep the company going during its restructuring.