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Shopko closing signs

Although the signs on the North Side La Crosse Shopko tout 10 to 30 percent off, with nothing held back, the fine print notes limited exceptions. Shoppers who go inside will find that CDs and books are among the exceptions.

Long faces and longer-than-normal checkout lines were common Friday morning at the Shopko store in Bridgeview Plaza on La Crosse’s North Side, shortly after doors opened on its closeout sale, touted on window signs and in-store banners as having prices at 10 to 30 percent off.

“It breaks our heart,” Karin Troyanek said in an interview that interrupted her bargain-hunting trip with her sister, Sonja Schaller. “We don’t have anything here now. The hot-dog stand and here (Shopko) were two places where North Siders could meet each other.”

That hot-dog stand had been Coney Island Station, which had been a few stores down from Shopko, until it closed in November.

Asked whether her disappointment is because she doesn’t have transportation to two other Shopkos — one on the South Side and the other in Onalaska — or other stores, Troyanek said that isn’t the case.

“This is our place, dear,” she said with a rueful but friendly, smile.

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Shopping sisters at Shopko

The smiles belie the real mood Sonja Schaller, left, and her sister, Karin Troyanek, were in during a foray into the North Side Shopko shortly after the store opened, launching its closeout sale.

“What are the people on French Island going to do?” Troyanek said. “It’s going to affect everybody.”

The sisters also lamented the loss of jobs for employees, and Schaller attributed the closing, in part, to online shopping.

“A lot of stores are suffering because of the internet,” she said. “You can order anything.”

Shopko, headquartered near Green Bay, announced the closure of the North Side store and five others this week — a follow-up to its revelation last year that it planned to close 39 stores in 19 states by the end of February. Other closures are in Appleton, Grafton, Menasha, Seymour and Sussex.

With about 360 stores in 24 states, Shopko has said long-term outlooks on profitability, sales trends and growth potential dictate the closures. The chain reportedly intends to seek bankruptcy protection from creditors next week.

News about the latest blows to the chain came this week, when McKesson Corp., a pharmaceutical supplier for Shopko, told a judge this week that it has delivered $67 million in drugs to Shopko since Nov. 11 but has not been paid since early December.

McKesson asked Brown County Circuit Judge William Atkinson for a restraining order to keep Shopko from selling the medications it has supplied. McKesson attorney Jeff Garfinkle revealed during a court hearing that Shopko is expected to file for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday.

Shopko attorney Stephen Hackney countered that a restraining order would require the retailer to close its pharmacies and would harm patients who need the medications, according to Press-Gazette Media.

Atkinson rejected McKesson’s request.

The chain’s public relations representative did not respond to several calls requesting information about the number of employees at the North Side store and the long-term projections for the stores at 4344 Mormon Coulee Road in La Crosse and 9366 Hwy. 16 in Onalaska.

Bridgeview Plaza, which was built in 1970, has several vacant storefronts between Lebakkens Rent to Own on the north end and Harbor Freight tools on the south. Tenants include businesses such as CosmoProf, a cosmetics supplier; LA Nails, and an H & R Block tax office, but it has vacancies that had included a clothing store, a card collector shop and a nutrition store, among others.

North Country Steak Buffet occupies the northwest corner of the plaza, while the building that once housed a Burger King restaurant on the northeast corner has remained vacant since the fast-food spot closed in August 2017.

“It breaks our heart. We don’t have anything here now. The hot-dog stand and here (Shopko) were two places where North Siders could meet each other.” Karin Troyanek, North Side resident

Mike Tighe can be reached at mtighe@lacrossetribune.com<mailto:mtighe@lacrossetribune.com>, or follow him on Twitter at @necktye. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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(1) comment

elocs

"Bridgeview Plaza, which was built in 1970, has several vacant storefronts...."
Several? Try half of the storefronts at least between Harbor Freight and the Shopko pharmacy. This Shopko is just a mile from my home and has been convenient for me to shop for 27 years now, but I was surprised it stayed open after the Shopko by the mall opened.
But this kind of strip mall is really showing its age now and especially the Shopko store.
Anybody notice this past summer on warm days how the temperature in the store was warmer than the outside hallway? Plus when Harbor Freight blocked off the ability to walk from one end of the mall to the other, that had to reduce the foot traffic?
Another thing about Shopko, ever notice how their 'sale' prices tended to be the price you could buy the item all the time at Walmart? Did they really think that we would believe that by jacking up the regular price and then reducing it that we would believe it was a 'sale'?
Coney Island bailing had to signal that the end was near. So who is really surprised?

These malls are really going to find new ways of drawing people in which would involve not just buying 'things' if they want to survive in the Amazon era. Enough of being relics from a different age.

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