Bankruptcy claims remaining ShopKo stores, including Duluth

This ShopKo store in Two Harbors is among the many closed by the regional retail chain amid bankruptcy. (PHOTO: Tony Webster, Flickr CC)

ShopKo announced today that bankruptcy would force it to close all its remaining stores, including six in Northeastern and Central Minnesota, by June 16.

Stores in Duluth, Ely, Two Harbors, Aitkin, Mora and Moose Lake are among those that will close.

ShopKo’s woes are nothing new, and are in keeping with general problems in the retail sector. However, this decision delivers a hard blow to affected employees and communities.

Ely, for instance, is heavily reliant on its ShopKo for certain products because of its distance from other shopping options. However, the growth of online retailing has made it difficult for department-style stores to operate in small towns. What often remain are dollar stores, which sell certain staple products but often leave “deserts” for certain products — for instance, healthy produce or work clothing.

This will also leave large retail buildings in communities unlikely to attract a similar business to its location, with the exception of Duluth. In many cases the buildings will need to be torn down or remodeled for some other purpose.

A number of potential uses exist if a community buys into a plan. But often the initial price tag for renovations becomes a major hurdle.

This won’t be the last time something like this happens. It’s been happening for years and will continue. It goes beyond the day-to-day economy at gets at the crux of new technology, automation and people’s retail habits.


  1. David Gray says

    I’m very sorry to see this, particularly for Aitkin. I don’t think Shopko understood where there real opportunities lay. Their real niche could have been towns large enough to support them but too small for a Walmart. And then they needed to radically rethink what their stores carried based on that market. I shopped occasionally in the store in Aitkin and they had all sorts of things where they weren’t going to be competitive and neglected things which could have carved out a share of that market.

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