Whitefish Shopko Store to Close in May

Retailer announced closure of 70 percent of its stores following bankruptcy filing

By Tristan Scott

The Shopko Hometown store located at Whitefish’s Mountain Mall is slated to close as the retail giant lays plans to reorganize financially in the hopes of emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Opened in 2015, the Whitefish location is scheduled to close May 12, and is listed among several Montana Shopko outlets set to close, including Dillon, Great Falls, Hardin, Plentywood, Roundup, Sidney, and Wolf Point.

The Kalispell store does not appear on the list of affected Shopko locations slated for liquidation. The retailer recently announced closures that will affect 70 percent of its locations.

“This decision is a difficult, but necessary one,” Russ Steinhorst, Shopko’s chief executive officer, stated in a press release. “In a challenging retail environment, we have had to make some very tough choices, but we are confident that by operating a smaller and more focused store footprint, we will be able to build a stronger Shopko that will better serve our customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders through this process.”

According to the press release, the Wisconsin-based retail chain is “seeking to facilitate the restructuring as a result of excess debt and ongoing competitive pressures.”

The Whitefish store was not on the company’s initial list of 98 locations targeted for closure, but appeared in the second round of 251 stores scheduled to close.

Shopko Hometown signed a lease with mall owners Carrington Co. four years ago for a 37,500-square-foot space in the center of the mall, which included a $3.7 million renovation.

Shopko Hometown is the chain’s newest concept, aimed at smaller communities ranging from 3,000 to 8,000 in population, and carrying about 70 percent of the merchandise carried at its larger stores while requiring less than half the space.

The Whitefish location employs about 25 full-time and part-time workers.

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