On June 16, Perham's Shopko closed its doors after the Wisconsin-based retailer declared bankruptcy, closing all Shopko stores nationwide.
The building will not be empty for much longer: Mark Tomsche, owner of Mark's Fleet Supply, is opening up a new home goods store called Mark's Home & More in the old Shopko location.
"Our plan is to do a similar merchandise base like Shopko was doing," Tomsche said.
Tomsche saw a unique opportunity when he heard that Shopko was closing. He decided to talk to Matt Breitbach, the Shopko building owner who is Tomsche's neighbor in Sauk Center, about what he would be willing to do with the 4,000-square-foot building.
The new store is going to be kind of like an expansion of the fleet store, filling a needed void in town, Tomsche said.
"We'll have a unique opportunity to adjust our merchandise," Tomsche said. "We'll try to keep the mix that was there similar and try to keep our mix current like it is. We will make some small adjustments as we need to."
Tomsche plans for the new home store to meet the needs that Shopko did without competing with the fleet store. There is going to be clothing, lawn, garden, outdoor living, toys, bicycles, a pet department, some electrical and plumbing supplies, a line of groceries, and health and beauty, Tomsche said. There will also be home goods in the new store such as bedding, kitchenware and small appliances.
Many of these items, especially home goods, were lost when Shopko closed and nowhere else in town sold them, said Jonathan Smith, Perham city manager. People have had to find new ways to purchase the same items either from another store in town that stocked, leaving town or going online.
"The hope is that it wasn't closed long enough for people to completely shift their tends," Smith said.
The direct financial impact of losing Shopko cannot be measured until the end of the first quarter when the department of revenue reviews the sales taxes from 2018 and 2019, Smith said.
One other feature Tomsche has planned for the store: a pharmacy. Months before ShopKo closed, its pharmacy shut down first.
"We're working on securing a lease for a pharmacist to come in here," Tomsche said.
Mark's Home & More will be opening its doors for business in late January. A grand opening celebration is set for April 11, after the store has been open for a few months.
Tomsche plans to employ an average of 25 people and is still hiring for both full and part-time employees. Applicants can apply by calling Mark's Fleet Supply 218-346-6275 and asking for Liz Holzer in HR.
- Marks Fleet Supply: 945 Market St.; 218-346-6275; truevalue.com/marksfleetsupply/Home.aspx
- Mark's Home & More: 300 Jake St. Opening later in January.
Hours for Mark's Home and More:
- Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Saturday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.