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Skopko Closing All Stores

Shopko announced Monday that it will close all its remaining stores, including the Onalaska location shown here at 9366 Hwy. 16. The discount retailer was founded by pharmacist James Ruben in Green Bay in 1962, and it was purchased by Sun Capital Partners, a private equity group in 2005. At its peak, the chain operated about 360 stores in 24 states.

Shopko is going out of business.

The Wisconsin-based retailer on Monday announced that all of its stores — including locations in La Crosse, Onalaska, Arcadia and Winona — will be closed by mid-June, after years of waning financials and mounting competitive pressure.

The company’s inability to find a buyer, officials said, proved to be the fatal blow.

“This is not the outcome that we had hoped for when we started our restructuring efforts,” said Russ Steinhorst, chief executive officer. “We want to thank all of our teammates for their hard work and dedication during their time at Shopko.”

1978: Shopko

In this 1978 photo, 17-month-old Tracy Wolter joins the many shoppers at the opening of the Shopko discount store in Shelby Mall. The city's first Shopko, at 2500 Rose St., opened in 1972. A third Shopko opened in Onalaska in 1989. All three stores are expected to close in 2019.

Earlier this year, Shopko announced dozens of closures, including a store in North La Crosse, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Steinhorst expressed optimism that a smaller, more focused footprint might do the company good. Those hopes were dashed by Monday’s announcement.

At the Shopko on La Crosse’s South Side, daytime shoppers lamented the loss of their neighborhood store — a place that feels more homey, more sentimental than rival big-box stores.

“Kmart is closed, and Walmart is way down there — this is all we have,” said a woman named Donna, who lives on the South Side and declined to share her last name. She was at Shopko on Monday to buy jelly beans and get her glasses repaired.

“Between this and the (nearby) Dollar Store, I come here a lot,” she said.

Bev, who also asked to go by her first name, said she comes to the South Side Shopko every couple weeks. She has a springtime ritual, she said, of buying her flowers here.

“It’s so sad,” she sad. “It’s awful news.”

“You hate to see it close,” said another woman, who lives in Prairie du Chien. “You hate having to go to the mall, at least I do, because I’m older.”

Terry Willer, who manages the South Side location, said it was a tough, emotional day — one he is still processing.

“I’ve had to tell people, some who have been with this company since the beginning, for 40 years, that we’re shutting down,” he said. The store has roughly 50 employees, and while some will retire, Willer said, others will have to find new jobs.

1971: Bridgeview Plaza Shopping Center

A groundbreaking was held in October 1971 for Bridgeview Plaza Shopping Center on the city's far North Side. The $2.5 million development opened with a SuperValu Supermarket, which later closed, and a Shopko discount store, which is expected to close in 2019.

“They’ve put their lives into this company, and now they’ll have to learn something completely different,” he said.

Company officials estimate that the liquidation process will take 10 to 12 weeks at most locations. The local stores have not set firm closure dates, although they have begun hyping their last round of bargains.

On Monday, orange closing signs plastered the doors of the South Side location, advertising an additional 30 percent off.

“We’re known as people’s hometown store — not like Walmart or Target,” Willer said. “We’ve always prided ourselves on our customer service, on being that place for people.”

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Kyle Farris covers education for the La Crosse Tribune. Reach him at (608) 791-8234 or kfarris@lacrossetribune.com.

(12) comments

xaviercat22

While I agree that Amazon has had an effect on the retail landscape, simply walking through KMart and Shopko should tell you exactly why they're closing. Both of those stores were way out dated. When I did go in, it was rare to get a smile from someone, or in some cases see someone that worked there.

Frangel45

Amazon and similar stores are the worst for our economy. My neighborhood apparently all live through Amazon - take a look on trash day. I promised I would not pass by our local merchants for a few cents. Kroner's gets my business, K-Mart and Shopko did as well. WalMart will never get my business - when will consumers consider why they should support certain/local businesses? A big part of this is that the 'investors' want to live the high life and when they've ground the actual business into the ground they just bail. They have no interest in providing a consumer service - it's all about making lots of money fast and then sell to someone else or in yet another case file bankruptcy and leave everyone else holding the bag once again - what a despicable way to make a living. I'm sure they all have well-padded bank accounts.

Rick Czeczok

Amazon wipes another one out. They will own all of us when he completes his mission. They pay no taxes, they have not yet made a profit at year end. It's all a web site where others pay. Enron was kinda like they are.

capedcrusader

Enron was not anything like Amazon. Enron stole everyone's pension and thanks to Robert Mueller some of those executives like Skilling spent time in prison. He and Lay and others should have gotten life in prison for stealing thousands of other people's lives. Lay probably faked his death to live out his life in South America. Justice wasn't comepletely served but some of it was. Besides Czeczok, isn't Amazon Capitalism at work? You never answer that question. You are such a proponent of it I'm surprised you don't back Amazon.

Rick Czeczok

You totally missed and twisted my point as usual. Give it up already and except you are an idiot. I already answered my view of capitalism and that there are controls and parameters which need to be set. You once again have no idea of what capitalism is, or the good it does. You are from the " new socialist pig party" ( the former democratic donkey party) I expect nothing less from you.

capedcrusader

Once again you can’t answer a simple question without name calling. I’m surprised as much as you violate the Tribunes standards they allow you to stay here. If I didn’t know what capitalism is why couldn’t you answer the question? Can you ever do that without getting creepy? Like trying to ignore the line of discussion by wanting to know who everyone is? You don’t want to discuss anything. You just want to see how much you can get away with. Just like Buggs Raplin and Snow Cougar.

Rick Czeczok

Wow you calling anyone out for name calling is really quite funny, as you are the worst of the worst on name calling. Stop twisting the words of someone trying to discuss something and changing the subject all in the same sentence. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I know you are a sensitive socialist who only likes things their way or no way at all.

capedcrusader

You sir are a phony who can't answer simple questions when asked. You resort to name calling and then wanting to know who people are . Like that's going to help you. Nope cupcake, I only call people what they are and people like you are phony to the core. Where and what did you teach again? See, simple question that you haven't answered to this day and people have been asking you for over a year. Czeczok, your problem is you can't be honest.

Rick Czeczok

Stay on topic, I have stated 3 times on this board were I taught. When Physics tells us where he taught, I will once again with no problem let you know where I taught. I'm sorry if I hurt your widdle feelings. Why do you keep stating questions I have answered twice to you. Do you have a problem with memory. Look back on my comments if you want the same question asked over and over. Wow you are a bright one.

capedcrusader

No you didn't. That's another lie. Comments don't go very far back anymore and I thought it was a simple question. It should be simple to answer. Even for you...

GrandpaS

There must be some secret to keeping brick and mortar stores open, but it seems to be a well guarded secret. Kohl's, Home depot and a few others seem to be doing well. Stores also using on line sales, maybe? Advertising the benefits of looking at and holding a product you're considering buying? Trying it on to see if it fits or to see if the shirt matches the pants? Does the car drive as good as it looks on the computer monitor? The last few months, all Shopko was doing was advertising LOW, LOW, LOW prices. Guess what? If you can't pay your bills, selling your products for LESS, LESS, LESS might not be the best way to increase your revenue to the amount you need to stay alive. Yes, Amazon is having a big negative effect on retail stores, but there must be some way or ways to counteract that.

k

I am so sad about this,first all the good stores in the mall closed,then kmart,now Shopko,I guess I will just hope Target and walmart can hang in there. My clothes selection has now majorly dropped. Rochester here I come.

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