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Impact of Shopko closure felt in La Crosse

La Crosse, Wis. (WXOW) – We learned that six Shopko locations in Wisconsin would close, including one on the north side of La Crosse.

It happened in the blink of an eye – news broke of Shopko potentially filing bankruptcy – and in the same day, a closure announcement via e-mail to La Crosse City Council Member Andrea Richmond.

My reaction is how disappointing that was,” she said

The Shopko at Bridgeview Plaza has been at that location since 1972. Now – in liquidation – employees will eventually have to find other work.

I have a lot of friends that have worked there over the years,” Richmond said. “I have one friend that’s been there 46 years hoping to reach their 50 year mark. Unfortunately that won’t happen.”

Bridgeview Plaza already faces vacancies and a tumultuous recent past. It’s been sold and then resold, some owners filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The property sits for sale and has for some time.

Right now the cost that the owners have suggested to buy that whole facility is just too prohibitive for the city,” Mayor Tim Kabat said.

The vacancy that will be left by Shopko may be felt just as much by the surrounding community.

So that’s really a staple and anchor on the north side,” the City of La Crosse’s Economic Development Planner Andrea Schnick said. “People in that neighborhood are going to Shopko on a daily [or] weekly basis to get their basic goods [and] prescriptions. It would really be a loss for them and that’s really what hurts the city.

Financial hurdles aside, some in the business community like North La Crosse Business Association President Nick Roush see potential.

I think grocery could be spectacular there, if a grocery store could make it into that location,” Roush said. “Having a really solid anchor – and a food anchor – could be huge there because that really helps the neighborhood, it helps the surrounding area, it helps all the other businesses.”

For now, it will evetually sit empty, suffering a similar fate as many other department stores in the past two years.

Sam Shilts

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