In addition to pharmacy, Shopko store to close

Decision by company going though bankruptcy comes as regional pharmacy chain eyes Port
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Less than two weeks after the pharmacy at  Shopko Express in Port Washington closed, Shopko officials announced that the store itself will officially close in May.

The Port store, which the company said employs 10 full and part-time workers, was among 139 that Shopko announced last week it would close as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring.

Shopko spokesman Michelle Hansen said Tuesday she did not know if the store might close earlier than planned.

Shopko’s portfolio of stores has been shrinking — the Grafton Shopko is also closing —as the national retailer has worked to attract a new owner.

The loss of Port’s Shopko Express would create a large vacancy on the city’s north side and is particularly acute coming so soon after the pharmacy closed.

Port Washington Director of Planning and Development Bob Harris said Tuesday that he has been contacted by a regional pharmacy chain interested in finding a location in Port Washington.

The company sought a list of potential sites that would be able to accommodate a drive-through, he said, and the city supplied it with buildings that might suit its needs.

“I’ve gotten that call but I haven’t heard anything else,” Harris said. “I’m hoping that vacuum (caused by the closing of the Shopko Express pharmacy) will attract someone else to the city.”

While the closing of the pharmacy left many people speculating that the store itself would likely close at some point, few thought it would happen so fast.

The Shopko Express store has been a cornerstone of business in Port Washington since it was founded as Port Apothecary in 1978.

Port Washington Mayor Marty Becker, who was an owner and founder of Port Apothecary, said, “The whole idea was to provide cards and gifts and liquor,” he said. “If you needed a gift, you knew you could buy one there for $5 to $100. If you needed a card, we had a great line of cards for every occasion. And we had competitive liquor prices.

“We had a pharmacy, but we didn’t expect everyone to bring in their prescription right away. We knew people were loyal to their pharmacy and pharmacist. We gave it time, and we built up the prescription base.”

The key to Port Apothecary’s success, Becker said, was simple — “We offered good service and we got involved in the community.”

Port Apothecary was sold to Shopko in 2004.

“Through our conversations with the potential buyers, it has become clear that it is in our best interest to operate with a significantly smaller store footprint,” Shopko said in a statement, adding the hope is that the action will “make ourselves more attractive to potential buyers and successfully emerge from Chapter 11.”  

Hansen said the remaining 120 Shopko stores are the retailer’s top performing shops.  

The city has one other pharmacy, the recently opened Aurora Pharmacy at the health care provider’s east clinic in Port Washington.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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