(ShopKo in Watertown, to be specific.)
ShopKo was just the greatest. I remember Mom picking me up on my last day of fifth grade with the promise of going to ShopKo to celebrate. I had $5 to spend, and I came away with a pair of grown-up shoes: these slide-on mules with a block heel. I LOVED those shoes.
|This is during my incredibly graceful preteen years.|
Remember those little console things with different CD covers that you could press to hear a sample? ShopKo had the BEST ONES. My friend Allison and I would stand around and play The Best of Barry Manilow on repeat, the soulful strains of “Mandy” filling the store over and over and over again.
When I got a job with an actual paycheck, I could have just signed most of those checks over to ShopKo. It was about this time I started getting into fun socks, and ShopKo hands-down had the best collection. I would buy one or two pairs of fun socks per ShopKo visit – a few of the very earliest pairs were covered with grapes, pineapples and flamingos. I eyed the cool Nikes in the athletic shoe section, and I even once bought a teal Nike shirt on sale there. I bought DVDs and CDs from their electronics section. I bought my favorite sandals.
|This is an honest-to-God senior picture.|
I was ALWAYS in ShopKo.
After high school, ShopKo dropped off my radar. I moved to Morris for college, which suffered under the fate of having a Pamida. I then moved to Denver, New Orleans, and Minneapolis – all places without ShopKos.
I didn’t reunite with ShopKo until I moved to Luverne in 2013. Luverne doesn’t have a lot of shopping options, but they did have a ShopKo. As it turned out, the ShopKo was once a Pamida. ShopKo purchased all Pamida stores and morphed them into ShopKo Hometown stores.
James and I have spent a lot of time and money in our ShopKo. We come in for one thing we need and end up spending an hour and a hundred million dollars there. It seemed like everything was always on sale, and there was always something we couldn’t live without. One of my recent “thing that I don’t need but will invariably improve my quality of life” purchases was the bluest, softest, fluffiest quilted blankets I’ve ever owned. That blanket made this hellish winter more bearable, thanks to ShopKo.
When we got the news the ShopKo pharmacy was closing earlier this year, it sounded like the beginning of the end. Sure enough, the announcement came that all ShopKo stores are closing. James and I went immediately and bought all sorts of thing we’d been meaning to buy, like a new kayak seat and an inflatable loungey chair for summer.
I think I can speak for the town of Luverne when I say we are a little bit devastated. We do have a Dollar General, but after ShopKo closes, we’ll have a very big gap when it comes to all-in-one type stores like ShopKo. Where are we going to get cool prizes for the library summer reading program? Where am I going to get my super soft fuzzy blankets? Most importantly, where am I going to get my super-discounted Halloween decorations on November 1??
I know it’s going to be alright, but the loss of ShopKo means a lot in small towns like mine. It means more of us will travel to Sioux Falls for Target, and less of our money will stay in the community. I know ShopKo didn’t close in order to doom small towns (Luverne avoided the first round of store closures because the store was doing so well), but it does indeed feel a little like doom. We need another store like it to take over, but who?
We have until June before ShopKo closes, so I’m sure there are still many hours and many hundreds of dollars at ShopKo in my future. After June, I will have to rely on my collection of ShopKo socks and my memories.