Houghton’s branch of Shopko, a retail outlet and pharmacy, will be closing this year with an estimated final day of operation of May 5.
The corporation filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 16, 2019. Chapter 11 is referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy by the United States Courts and gives a company time to restructure in order to pay off debts. Shopko released a statement saying that “The Company is seeking to facilitate the restructuring as a result of excess debt and ongoing competitive pressures.” Many Shopko locations across the country and especially in the Midwest are closing as part of the restructuring as well. Russ Steinhorst, Chief Executive Officer, elaborated in the released statement, “This decision is a difficult, but necessary one. 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.” The full statement can be found at info.shopko.com/financial-restructure.pdf.
Shopko is one of few options in the Houghton-Hancock area for groceries, pharmaceuticals and other goods. Walmart, as the world’s largest retail outlet of its kind, is a competitor to Shopko in Houghton and elsewhere. Walmart employs 1.5 million people in the United States, more than any other private company, and grossed $514.4 billion last fiscal year.
When reached for comment, both the manager of Houghton’s Shopko and a representative from Shopko’s media relations corporate office declined to respond. Information surrounding the restructuring is tightly controlled, with employees instructed not to answer questions about it.
The event’s impact on the community has yet to be observed, but decreased options for shopping and jobs for MTU students are sure to be consequences of it.
The Copper Country Mall was also a prominent business center at one point, but has now fallen by the wayside with little hosted there except Rogers Cinema. “At least there is a roof over the emptiness,” quips one user on Facebook about the dilapidated shopping center. As of right now, the fate of the building that currently houses Shopko is unknown.
*Note: This story ran March 7