Losing Shopko can lead to other opportunities

The comments from shoppers after hearing about the closure of the Marshall Shopko vary from sadness of losing a store to anger with Marshall’s shopping options.

But the closure slated for June has nothing to do with Marshall or southwest Minnesota. Shopko announced Monday it was unable to find a buyer for its company and it would have to start the liquidation process for all of its stores.

The failure of the Shopko corporation has everything to do with the current retail landscape. The increased ease of online shopping and the growth of mega-stores like Walmart that combined a traditional department store with a full grocery made for a perfect storm that has led to the failure of many retail outlets.

Analysts expect the record-high rate of store closures to continue in 2019. Payless recently announced it planned to close all of its 2,500 stores in what could be the largest retail liquidation in history. Sears, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Nordstrom are also closing stores in 2019.

The closures affect communities in different ways. Larger cities can absorb some of the negative impacts easier than smaller communities like Marshall that are located in rural areas. The closure of a single business like Shopko can have a ripple effect through the economy of a small town. In Marshall’s case, about 55 employees will lose jobs. They pay mortgages or rent and buy groceries and eat at restaurants just like everybody else.

And losing a big box retailer leaves big buildings empty and can be a negative mark against a community that is trying to lure other major retailers. There’s also the potential of a large loss of retail tax revenue.

That’s some of the negatives of Marshall losing Shopko.

However, all is not lost. There is always hope as Marshall Economic Development Authority Director Tara Onken points out she is looking toward the future. Onken said the EDA will reach out to ownership of the property Shopko now occupies and start a marketing process to find a new tenant.

“We’ll continue to focus on improving our economy by bringing in business or industry that increases our tax base and creates jobs,” she said.

Onken also pointed out that Marshall is still a viable shopping destination. There are several options still available such as Walmart, Hy-vee, Aldi’s, Menards, Runnings and Borch’s. And Hobby Lobby has already announced it will be opening a Marshall store. There are also smaller retail options in Marshall and the surrounding communities that offer quality merchandise.

And that’s where local shoppers can be part of the solution. Before looking online or driving a hundred miles to larger cities to shop, take the time check out the local retailers first. And the EDA can continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce, city and county officials in working to create a popular destination.