“NO COMMENT. I can’t say anything.”
Those words, from a manager at Marquette’s Shopko, unfortunately, say enough. The future of the department store and pharmacy, both here and across much of the country, is in doubt.
At a court hearing earlier this week, an attorney for a pharmaceutical company said Shopko was going to file for bankruptcy on January 15th.
No confirmation from the company itself. Our attempts to get clarification from their headquarters in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin have gone unanswered.
Of course, “bankruptcy,” if it happens, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re closing down. It could mean reorganization, arranging to pay down some of the debt and paring down the company.
Remember Gander Mountain? It declared bankruptcy over a year ago but then re-emerged months later as Gander Outdoors.
Just last month, Shopko announced it was closing 39 stores nationwide and selling off some of its pharmacy business. And in the last few days, the Shopko Hometown in Wetmore and two other Shopko stores in South Dakota got the word they were shutting down, as well.
So the process is already underway. How will that affect the Shopko in Marquette and Shopko Hometown in Ishpeming? Uncertain.
In smaller communities, where Shopko has been the only game in town, the impact could be devastating. In Marquette, less so.
Walgreens, with its pharmacy department, sits right across the street. Walmart, Target, and Meijer are just a couple of miles up the road.
And, no surprise, it’s those companies, along with the dollar stores and Amazon, that have helped create Shopko’s troubles.
Other stores that have fallen victim to the new business environment? Sears, Kmart, Payless, Bon-Ton, Toys R Us. There are plenty more.
And like the others, Shopko, which was founded in Green Bay in 1962 and boasts more than 300 stores across the country, simply hasn’t kept up. Walk in the Marquette Shopko, and you’ll see a tired, sleepy department store in dire need of a makeover.
But beyond all the business implications of a possible bankruptcy lies the impact on the people. The employees of Shopko. Doing their jobs, earning a paycheck. Taking care of their families. Part of the community.
What will happen to them? We’ll start to get some answers, it appears, on Tuesday.
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