Ellsworth Shopko closing 'unfortunate' loss for the community, chamber says
In May, the Ellsworth Shopko will close its doors to the community.
The announcement was made last week, following news that the company had filed for bankruptcy in January.
The pharmacy at the store already closed Feb. 5, and the full store will close May 5.
"It's very unfortunate for the community," said Kim Beebe of the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce.
The store was the only of its kind in Ellsworth, and Beebe said it offered residents convenience.
"The impact will be felt by everyone," Beebe said. "However, those who aren't able to easily travel to destinations outside of town, such as our senior citizens, will feel the loss most."
As for what will fill the soon-to-be empty space — that's still up in the air.
Plenty of suggestions have been made, Beebe said, some exciting and creative.
"An event center, community space, bowling alley and other ideas have been suggested. Would an agricultural-focused retail store specializing in horse supplies and tack do well there?" she said.
The focus, though, has to be on what will fit in the Ellsworth community.
"When large prominent businesses like this exit a community, because of adjustments in consumer behavior or changes in the business landscape, reinventing these spaces takes time and planning," Beebe said.
The reinvention needs to be viable for the community, and Beebe said that takes time, money and resources.
The chamber relies on partner organizations to work directly with businesses looking to establish themselves in Ellsworth in order to promote commerce and growth in the community.
The chamber recently completed its Design Ellsworth initiative, presenting the results with the village and county. The main focus of that initiative was on Ellsworth downtown.
"Still the results of the project will be valuable for recruiting new businesses and to entrepreneurs interested in establishing or expanding a business in the area," Beebe said.
Currently no announcement has been made about the River Falls retail store. The location's pharmacy has closed. For a full list of closings, visit info.shopko.com.