Shopko closing

Retail chain Shopko closed earlier this year, shuttering area stores in Dubuque, Dyersville, Iowa, and Lancaster, Wis. 

Shopko Stores announced Monday that it will close all of its locations, including those in Dubuque and Dyersville, Iowa, and Lancaster, Wis.

When contacted by the Telegraph Herald, employees at all three stores declined to comment and referred any questions to corporate officials.

A press release issued Monday by the company states that, “despite the company’s best efforts, it was unable to find a buyer” that would enable the stores to remain open.

“As a result, Shopko will commence an orderly wind-down of its retail operations beginning this week,” the release stated. “Further, the company is evaluating strategic options for its optical business.”

All stores are expected to close by June 16.

Karla Thompson, executive director of Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce, said residents had come to rely on the city’s Shopko Hometown store at 1201 12th Ave. SE.

“It is sad news,” she said. “They provided the essential things that people needed, whether it was something like paper towels or clothes, toys or automotive supplies. They provided it all.”

SIGNIFICANT IMPACTThompson said the chamber’s most recent records indicated the Dyersville Shopko employed about 30 people, including both full- and part-time workers. She added that the store “actually did pretty well and sustained itself over the years.”

She expressed hope that these workers soon would find other employment.

“They definitely have the customer-service-type of skills, and I am confident they will be absorbed by other businesses in the community,” she said. “I do think they will be finding other jobs locally.”

No information was available immediately Monday on how many employees worked at the Dubuque or Lancaster stores.

Rick Dickinson, president and CEO of Greater Dubuque Development Corp., also talked about the impacted workers.

“This is disappointing news for them, and the closure had nothing to do with them,” Dickinson said.

Rather, Dickinson said the closure is indicative of broader, nationwide problems facing the retail industry. He noted that consumer migration to online sales is among the many factors putting pressure on traditional retailers.

Despite these struggles, Dickinson expressed hope that the building at 255 John F. Kennedy Road would find a new tenant.

He explained that retailers scouting new locations pay close attention to the “buying power within a 10-minute drive” of a given building.

“By that measure, the Shopko building is one of the strongest locations in Dubuque,” he said. “If we do see retail growth in Dubuque, that would be one of the prime locations.”

LENGTHY RUNNews of the Dubuque store’s closure comes about two decades after its opening.

Shopko opened at 255 John F. Kennedy Road in the spring of 1999, representing the latest in a line of retailers to fill the structure.

Prior to Shopko’s arrival, the property was occupied by Venture Stores Inc. for approximately a decade. Zayre Department Store also operated out of the building before it closed in 1988.

Locations in Dyersville and Lancaster have operated under the Shopko Hometown name since 2012. Those two locations had served as Pamida stores before Shopko and Pamida merged seven years ago.

Signs of Shopko’s demise have been evident for months.

The Wisconsin-based retail chain previously filed for bankruptcy protection and announced more than 100 store closures, including of a Shopko Hometown store in Savanna, Ill.

The company said excessive debt and ongoing competitive pressure were forcing it to seek protection from creditors. Shopko was reporting assets of less than $1 billion and liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion.

Ron Brisbois, executive director of Grant County (Wis.) Economic Development Corp., acknowledged that the closure of the Lancaster store didn’t come as a huge surprise.

“People had been waiting and speculating and asking about what would happen,” he said. “I was always hoping it would find its niche and hold on, but it appears that is not the case.”

Brisbois expressed hope that a new tenant soon would take up residence in the building, although it might not be similar in nature to the departed Shopko.

He speculated that the property could be a nice destination for a “smaller-scale industrial business.”

With just months remaining until its closure, Brisbois emphasized that residents will be sad to see Shopko go.

“It was a nice little store for people in town,” he said. “It had a bunch of retail offerings, and it had clothing. We just don’t have a whole lot of those stores, period. It will be missed.”

Copyright, Telegraph Herald. This story cannot be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior authorization from the TH.