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Kimball residents launch bid to save Shopko store

January 5, 2019

KIMBALL — Shopko is closing 39 stores across America, including the Shopko Hometown location in Kimball. Kimball residents are hoping to keep the community’s store open or minimize the impact of the closure.

Shopko announced plans to close 39 stores in 19 states in December. The Omaha World-Herald reported that each store employs between 10 and 25 employees, meaning the extent of the job cuts ranges from 400 to almost 1,000 positions. The closures were based on the long-term projection of profitability, sales, trends and growth for the company.

Liquidation sales began in early December and the stores are closing at the end of February.

“If it’s going to be saved, it needs to happen long before then,” said Kimball City Administrator Dan Dean.

To combat the potential economic impact, Amy Sapp, Kimball special projects and economic development coordinator, came up with ideas from talking with local business owners to have them pick up product that Shopko carries and working with the Shopko building owner and Shopko Corporation on an arrangement to identifying businesses that can come into the community.

“We had a leakage report done the last half of 2018 to identify where the money is being spent outside of the community,” she said. “One of the things was farm equipment.”

To view the leakage report, visit kimballne.org and click on economic development.

Sapp also said the city has discussed having an entreprenuer workshop along the Colorado front range to talk about the opportunities in Kimball and the Nebraska Panhandle. Based upon real estate sales, most of the people moving to Kimball come from Colorado, Sapp says.

With the closure of Shopko just over a month away, Dean said the loss of Shopko has an impact.

“Well it will impact the community, but we don’t know specifically how much because that’s proprietary information. We’re not privy to it but obviously, it’s going to have an impact,” he said.

The city sent a letter to Shopko asking the company to reconsider closing the doors. There has been no correspondence from Shopko’s corporate management to date.

“We did send a letter to Shopko asking them to reconsider and how important it was to the community,” said Dean.

The community is also fighting to keep the store’s doors open. Nicole Sanneh started a petition on change.org for “Keep Kimball, NE Shopko Hometown store open.” The petition link was emailed to Shopko’s co-CEO’s Rodger Krouse and Marc Leder.

On the page, Sanneh wrote, “Without this retail store, Kimball and surrounding area residents will have to drive 35-plus miles for basic household items. So much more than just the retail sales will be lost. Jobs will be lost as well as the economy.”

As of Friday afternoon, the petition had 1,336 signatures.

However, several similar petitions are circulating online as other communities hope to save their stores. According to reports from television stations and other media in North Dakota, one store located in Stanley, North Dakota, will remain open after an online petition circulated in that community, however, Shopko officials have not said if the petition had an impact on the company’s decision to keep the store open.

The opening of the Kimball store, which is located on 7.5 acres of land and is about 32,800 square feet, netted a lot of attention in the community when it was announced in 2007 that it would open and city leaders committed tax increment financing and other economic development funds to the store.

Initially, the store was a Pamida store in February 2008 and transitioned to a Shopko store in 2012 when Pamida announced it would close some of its stores and transitioned others to the Shopko Hometown brand.

Shopko does have a store in Alliance, which was not on the list of stores announced as closing.

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