ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — In 2022, the 20-year defunct Ames department stores looked to be making a remarkable comeback, but as 2023 creeps closer to its end, the wind seems to have been stolen from their sails.

Ames went out of business in 2002 after filing for bankruptcy a second time. Fast forward 20 years and the store we once thought only lived in our memories started to make headlines. It appeared as though the store was making a return.

The long-forgotten website was updated with a single-page statement that Ames was returning and multiple locations would open, with a number of locations being announced in the spring of 2023.

As time usually does, it kept moving along. Before we knew it, summer 2023 was in full effect without a peep from Ames about any future locations they were planning to reopen. Now we’re officially in Autumn and it’s still unknown if this is real — or was it a hoax all along?

Here’s what we do know:

In late 2022, Ames’ website was active again and announced a return. It appeared that a company based in the United Kingdom — with a U.S. subsidiary — purchased the name and was amping up for a relaunch in the Northeast United States.

WPRI, our sister station in Rhode Island, talked with Shannon de Molyneux in 2022 via email about the possible return of the retail chain. She told WPRI she’s the president of Cross Moline Ventures, which is described as a U.S. subsidiary of a U.K.-based firm in the Molyneux Group, however, she declined all requests to be interviewed, citing a hectic schedule.

“We’re currently dealing with a lot of requests from other networks … who want to do live interviews with me or my team,” de Molyneux said. “I currently do not have any time in my schedule until after the New Year.”

It was also confirmed by de Molyneux that stores would open in CT first before opening in NY and PA. Seven stores in total were said to be opening in 2023.

In April, the Ames website went offline. The company’s X/Twitter account had various messages about updates, changing servers, having technical issues, and more to explain why the website was down. This lasted for months before finally going back online. The Ames account in 2023 has mostly tweeted about these issues, or replied to various skeptics, but no actual updates have been seen.

Screenshot from Ames’ X/Twitter page
Screenshot from Ames’ X/Twitter page
Screenshot from Ames’ X/Twitter page

In June, the Ames website was changed to discuss a “shake up” of board members due to “mismanagement.” Gone were any references to the store reopening, nor when it might.

One skeptic went on to sarcastically praise them. They said they weren’t mad, but just wanted to know who was behind this.

Ha!!!! Hadn’t checked in for a while. Boardmembers? Employees? Stakeholders? Man – someone’s fantasy world is on fleek

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.

@DriveTimeVideos on X/Twitter

It should be noted that the U.K. based Molyneux Group’s website is no longer accessible.

In early 2023, the company announced that Cross Moline Ventures would be rebranded as Silver Knight Group. That website is also currently down, showing a message that it’s being redesigned.

Screenshot from Silver Knight Group’s current website

Silver Knight Group’s X/Twitter is sporadically used, as is the Ames account, and neither has seen activity since early August. Silver’s Instagram shows no posts at all, despite their profile touting that they own more than 300 brands.

The Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) for Ames, Rolando de Aguiar, is unable to be reached on Linked In without a premium account and his contact information links right back to his own profile.

It should also be noted that media coverage of any potential Ames store openings has been non-existent.

WTAJ reached out via email to de Molyneux and the Ames team on Monday, Sept. 18 and as of this writing, we’ve received no response.