Amid Shopko Closures, Opticals Continue to Thrive

The Wisconsin-based general merchandise retail chain Shopko (with many locations housing an in-store optical) filed for bankruptcy today and announced the closing of 38 stores nationwide. The chain announced, however, the four freestanding optical centers that Shopko opened in 2018 will remain open, and the company plans to relocate 20 other in-store optical centers to freestanding optical locations in 2019.
Shopko announced that it, along with its subsidiaries, has filed voluntary petitions for a court-supervised financial restructuring under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The Company is seeking to facilitate the restructuring as a result of excess debt and ongoing competitive pressures. And though it intends to remain open through the process, it will close at least 38 of its locations.
Shopko’s optical centers remain a strong business category, however.
In 2018, Shopko opened four freestanding optical centers in Wisconsin. Buoyed by the performance of these centers, Shopko announced that it will relocate 20 in-store optical centers to freestanding locations in 2019.
“This decision is a difficult, but necessary one,” Russ Steinhorst, Shopko CEO, says about the filing. “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.”
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—Susan Tarrant