BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Shopko has announced the list of stores that will close as it goes through the process of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Seven of those locations are in Northeast Wisconsin, including Shopko's first store which was built on Military Avenue in Green Bay in 1962:
GREEN BAY - 216 S Military Ave. (Date: April 15, 2019)
MANITOWOC - 3415 Calumet Ave. (Date: April 15, 2019)
MENASHA - 1578 Appleton Road (Date: April 8, 2019)
NEENAH - 699 S Green Bay Road (Date: April 15, 2019)
BUCHANAN (Express) - W3208 Van Roy Road (Date: February 15, 2019)
APPLETON (Express) - 2101 East Evergreen Drive (Date: February 28, 2019)
SEYMOUR (Hometown) - 1010 South Mainline Drive (Date: April 8, 2019)
Customers who come to the Military Ave. store often were sad to hear the news. "I don't like it. I feel sorry for a company this old, and to go down the drain like this, I don't like it, but it's a sign of the times," a shopper who identified herself as Alice said.
The Ashwaubenon-based retailer says it is looking to restructure the business as a result of "excess debt and ongoing competitive pressures."
"Business trends for us, like many retailers, have been difficult over the past few years," reads a statement from the retailer.
In a bankruptcy filing Wednesday, Shopko estimates it has 50,000 to 100,000 creditors. It owes the most -- nearly $70 million -- to pharmacy and health and beauty product supplier McKesson Drug Company. McKesson filed a complaint against Shopko earlier this month (more on this below).
Shopko says it has secured up to $480 million in debtor-in-possession financing to fund the store during bankruptcy.
The retailer plans to close an additional 38 stores and relocate 20 optical centers to "freestanding locations." It will conduct an auction for the pharmacy business.
Optical and pharmacy will remain open during the bankruptcy proceedings.
“This decision is a difficult, but necessary one,” said Russ Steinhorst, Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
In a letter to customers, Shopko says its remaining stores will be open during restructuring. Gift cards, warranties, credits and returns will continue at the open stores.
Once the pharmacy business is sold, Shopko says it will tell customers where their prescriptions will be transferred.
Click here to read Shopko's letter to customers.
Shopko declined our requests for further comments today.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court says Shopko must complete its bankruptcy filing by January 30 and submit a Chapter 11 plan by May 16. Click here to follow Shopko bankruptcy proceedings and announcements.
Alice told us she and her husband have shopped at the original Military Ave. store for 50 years, and walking into a store to see and feel a product is all she knows. "I think in my mind you have to be young, younger than us, to go like Amazon and Walmart and all that. We don't do that. We like one-on-one, so this is our store."
In recent weeks, Shopko has announced the closure of dozens of stores.
Kroger and Hy-Vee have purchased some of Shopko's pharmacy business.
Earlier this month, Action 2 News obtained documents detailing a complaint filed by pharmaceutical vendor McKesson Corporation against Shopko. McKesson is the primary supplier of pharmaceuticals, health and beauty care products to the retailer.
The complaint says Shopko made misrepresentations "regarding its solvency" and ability to pay for products it purchased from McKesson.
McKesson has asked a Brown County judge to enter a judgment against Shopko for the $67 million and other fees and costs. An injunction hearing in that case is scheduled for Jan. 24.
Shopko's bankruptcy petition was filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nebraska.
Shopko opened its first store in Green Bay in 1962.
Action 2 News will continue to update this breaking news story.