I would be lying if I said I haven't fretted ... A LOT ... since the announcement that Gothenburg's Shopko Hometown store will be closing in May. It's a blow to our community to lose a retail business that can't be easily replaced, and it comes on the heels of the Baldwin plant closure. It feels like another sucker punch to the gut.
Our Shopko Hometown began as a Pamida store, built from scratch in 2009. At the time, it was one of the Omaha-based company’s 193 stores in 17 states. In 2012, the Pamida company merged with Shopko Stores Inc., and our Pamida transitioned to Shopko Hometown, re-opening under the new brand just before Christmas of that year.
In the past six years, we've become accustomed to having a large retail outlet right here for a last-minute birthday gift, supplies for a class project or a replacement for the coffee pot that brewed its last java. We've also likely made friends with the employees — the customer service rep who helped us find the baby Tylenol, the shelf stocker who loaded the bookcase into our car and the cashier who reminded us about our coupons.
That's all about to change. And it's scary. But don't lose hope.
Community leaders and city officials are already exploring options. We were proactive with the Baldwin building, putting measures in place quickly to be able to market the facility ourselves and attract the "right fit." No doubt the same dedication will hold true for Shopko.
In the meantime, be a little extra kind to the folks working at Shopko through May 5. They were not the decision makers in the process to close this store. And they're facing the last months of a job on top of listening to customers lament about the closing.
Show some love to the other retailers in town too. We want to keep our charming shops and our personal service, but you have to shop local to keep local. It might require more energy than a keyboard click followed by a package delivery, but the customer service and relationships you get in return will be well worth it.