Whitefish Shopko store to close in May

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The Shopko Hometown store opened in 2015 at the Mountain Mall in Whitefish. (Pilot file photo)

Shopko Hometown in Whitefish will close May 12, the company said this week as it announced plans to close nearly 70 percent of Shopko stores in the coming months as it attempts to reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy.

The Kalispell Shopko store is not listed among the latest stores targeted for closure.

The company sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, saying it intends to restructure as a result of “excess debt and ongoing competitive pressures.”

The Whitefish store wasn’t among the first round of 98 Shopko store closures announced in January, but the company now plans to close 251 stores by mid-May.

Shopko Hometown opened in the Mountain Mall in Whitefish in 2015 in a 37,500-square-foot space that involved a $3.7 million renovation of the mall. The store sells clothing, home furnishings, toys, electronics, seasonal items and lawn and garden products.

“This decision is a difficult, but necessary one,” said Russ Steinhorst, Shopko’s chief executive officer, 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.”

Mountain Mall Property Manager Tom Kraus said the announcement of the pending closure of the Whitefish Shopko is disappointing. When the Whitefish store was spared from the first round of closures, “we thought things were looking pretty bright,” he said.

“This store was serving our community well, and the store itself has been profitable and growing,” Kraus said. “But it’s a victim of the new retail market.”

Kraus said Mountain Mall will “focus on moving forward” to find new tenants for the space.

“We need to keep our options open to see who’s out there that works well in this market and how much space do they need,” he added.

The Wolf Point and Plentywood Shopko Hometown stores were included in the first round of closures. Other Montana Shopko stores added to the closure list this week include the Great Falls, Roundup, Dillon, Sidney and Hardin stores.

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