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Pamida's last summer; Shopko Hometown to open by fall

The Perham Pamida is currently in the midst of a liquidation sale to clear out any existing inventory before the store reopens as a Shopko Hometown. Marie Nitke/FOCUS

Perham Pamida's conversion into a Shopko Hometown is going smoothly, and should be complete by the fall, according to store representatives.

The transition should have minimal impact on customers, as the store is expected to stay open - at least partially - during all phases of the conversion, even during remodeling.

There is also minimal negative impact on Pamida employees, as no positions are being terminated. The Perham store's assistant manager, Randy Matthews, said there may actually be some temporary positions available during the transition.

"We're keeping our entire crew on," he said. "And we may even be hiring for temps while we set up the store."

Liquidation sales, which started at Pamida at the end of May, are the first step in the conversion process. Matthews said sales so far have been "really good," with the store even bringing in more inventory because things have been selling out so quickly.

The next phase in the process will be the remodeling, which is likely to begin around mid-August and will take an estimated five to six weeks to complete. It will include new interior and exterior signage, updated and supplemented fixtures, improved store design and layout, as well as an expanded merchandise mix.

Matthews said that the last he heard, the store will remain open during the remodeling; areas under construction will be corded off from parts of the store still open for business. At least during the liquidation, the store will remain open during its normal business hours.

The pharmacy will remain open its normal hours through the whole conversion process, and pharmacy staff is not changing.

If all goes well, Shopko Hometown should be a done deal by the end of September.

"I think everybody's pretty excited about it," Matthews said of himself and the staff. "It's been going really good for us during the liquidation. It's been a break from the regular routine."

Matthews and other store leaders were holding down the fort last week while the store's manager, Rob Huck, was away at training for Shopko. The manager goes through a month of training, Matthews said, while the assistant manager will go for two weeks.

It was announced in January that Shopko had acquired more than 190 Pamida stores in 17 states, including the Perham store. The company is investing approximately $80 million into store conversions through the end of the year.

"We are eager to be one step closer to bringing the Shopko Hometown experience to Perham," stated the company's President, Chairman and CEO Paul Jones in a press release. "The Shopko Hometown format has already been overwhelmingly embraced by customers in seven markets where we have already converted stores."

The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Shopko Stores Operating Co., LLC is a $3 billion retailer that operates almost 350 stores in 22 states. Of those, 10 are currently Shopko Hometown locations, a smaller concept store developed to meet the needs of smaller communities.

The store will offer a broad range of national brands and private label brands of apparel, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items, lawn and garden products and more.