Shopko is leaving Spooner, but already another company is considering buying the building, and the Washburn County Economic Development Corporation has contacted other corporations to try to woo them into town, Joel Zimmermanm, executive director of the WCED told the county board at its monthly meeting on May 21.
He said he gets asked all the time about what is happening now that Shopko is going out of business, including the Spooner store, and he said the day he heard about it, he immediately called another corporation that people have said they would like to see in town, but it declined.
When asked about it later, he told the Advocate that the corporation was Target but the per-capita income in the area is too low for the company.
“Over the next several days [after hearing about Shopko], we contacted some other retailers, one of which hasn’t declined yet,” Zimmerman said.“I met with the owners, as well, of the building and trying to figure out what to do with that. They’ve been contacted by somebody who’s interested in moving in, in purchasing that building. But we don’t know what entity they represent yet. But that’s still on the on the table. So when there’s a building that goes empty, we are trying to fill it.”
He said the that the community needs to know that Shopko’s closing “doesn’t mean that the economics of this county are going down, it just means that Shopko had some failings and their entire corporation is closing down. But this was one of the last remaining open Shopkos that was performing well that they wanted to keep going. So the numbers are here to retain a decent retailer in the area.
“And so I think it’s important to let our constituents know that now that this is not a dying place, but that we’re thriving, we just have to figure out what to do and how to fill some of these empty buildings,” Zimmerman said.
He noted that a manufacturer has bought a building in Minong, but the business has really taken off and is shipping internationally, so the owner is struggling with figuring out how to grow rapidly while moving into the quarters.