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By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Public invited to participate in webinar on Shopko closure

 

May 30, 2019



WORLAND — The public is invited to view and participate in a webinar that will provide insight and recommendations to Wyoming communities in the wake of 13 Shopko stores closing across the state, including Worland and Thermopolis.

The webinar will be presented from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on June 6. 

In April, the Wyoming Business Council partnered with local community leaders to host retail expert Matt Wagner from the National Main Street Center in the Big Horn Basin area. Wagner was tasked with using the Big Horn Basin — where four Shopko stores were closing in Worland, Thermopolis, Greybull and Powell — as a case study to form his recommendations on mitigating the economic impact of the closures statewide. He toured the area, held focus groups and conducted surveys on the impact of Shopko’s departure. 

He will present his

conclusions and recommendations in this webinar, with the goal of providing insight and tools to all the impacted communities in Wyoming. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers at the end of the presentation.

In an earlier interview Wagner said, “Working with the Wyoming Business Council, who are driving this effort, we plan to follow-up with a webinar in June to present the findings from the focus groups, a survey and market analysis. The findings will be around which categories we sense can be recaptured either in the form of expansion and/or new business opportunities, as well as programs communities may want to establish in order to facilitate this effort. In addition, we plan to hold a regional workshop in the near future to address longer-term growth opportunities by building a support system for new entrepreneurs so that there are pipelines for new businesses to grow and expand within the region.”

The problems Worland and other communities are going through in trying to replace Shopko and other businesses is not unique to the Big Horn Basin or Wyoming, Wagner said.

“There is certainly a great deal of retail contraction across the U.S. We are overbuilt in the amount of retail square footage and that is being further exasperated by the growth of online retailing.  However, much of the impact has been felt by the national chain and big box stores.  Most ‘mom and pop’ retailers are aligned well with current consumer trends demanding unique products, experiential shopping opportunities in which they can be educated, witness a product being made or be socially engaged.  This is something that is hard to do in an online environment and thus gives independent store owners in small towns a great opportunity to compete.”

BACKGROUND

According to Wyoming Business Council Northwest Regional Director Amy Quick, When the first Shopko closures were announced, she was in close contact with the economic development professionals in the three communities initially affected (Greybull, Thermopolis and Worland), and then she later added Powell.

Quick and Wagner made half-day visits to each of the communities affected in Northwest Wyoming: Powell, Greybull, Worland, and Thermopolis with the Worland visit on Wednesday, April 17.

“Those visits consisted of multiple focus group listening sessions with community leaders, local retailers, and consumers as well as community tours. Prior to these visits, economic developers in each of the communities conducted informal inventories of businesses with product categories similar to Shopko,” Quick said.

Following the meetings, the next step was a survey that sought information on the frequency that people shopped at Shopko for a variety of items.

The survey also sought shopping habit information.

The survey information will be included in the webinar presentation next Thursday.

To participate, register online at: .

 
 

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