"There's always room for one more" might be the saying that aptly applies to the group of new ShopKo stores scheduled to open at seven locations in the second or third week of September.
The Utah market is not saturated, said Gene Bankers, ShopKo vice president and director of advertising/public affairs, in explaining why ShopKo chose Utah for expansion."We provide healthy competition for K Mart and Fred Meyers," Bankers said, "and in the areas where we go against them we have always done well."
An investigation of the Utah market started more than four years ago, Bankers said, and they found a family-oriented atmosphere in Utah that matched the type of products sold by ShopKo. Bankers said it is similar to the situation in Washington and Idaho where other ShopKo stores operate.
On Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. news media representatives will get a preview of the new ShopKo store at 5959 S. State. A few days later, depending on when construction is complete, the other stores will open at 2165 E. 94th South, Sandy; 9000 S. 1553 West, West Jordan; 5800 S. Redwood Road; 2266 N. University Parkway, Provo; 1018 Washington Boulevard, Ogden; and 1150 N. Main, Layton.
Bankers refused to say how much money the company invested in the buildings, but did say that Big D Construction Co., Ogden, built the Murray, Taylorsville, Ogden and Layton stores, and Paulsen Engineering, Salt Lake City, built the stores in Sandy, West Jordan and Provo.
He said all but two of the subcontractors were Utah companies, and most of the construction purchases were in Utah.
ShopKo has hired 1,800 people for its stores, and Bankers is "overjoyed by the quality of the employees." He said ShopKo's policy is to have store managers run their own stores and decide what merchandise to sell in any particular area because they know what sells.
Also, other employees, after receiving training, will be responsible for their own area "and we believe that approach will get every one of our employees charged up about their job. This, in turn, is reflected in customer service," Bankers said.
ShopKo stores will have health and beauty aids, jewelry, active wear, shoes, greenery, toys, households items, electronics, domestics, automotive, lawn and garden products, sporting goods, a nutrition center, a pharmacy and optical shop with licensed professionals, and clothes for the whole family.
Bankers said ShopKo is particularly strong in seasonal merchandise with toys, trim-a-tree, lawn and garden and outdoor living departments. He said these items are carried all year, but the inventory is enlarged during the particular season.
The company already has been using newspaper, radio and television advertising to acquaint Utahns with the new stores.
With the opening of the seven stores in Utah, ShopKo has 87 stores in 11 states. Last year the company, based in Green Bay, Wis., had $1.1 billion in sales. ShopKo is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Super Value Stores, Minneapolis, Minn., which posted $9.4 billion in sales last year.
Bankers said the company has a policy of keeping its stores looking attractive, and he also promised the parking lots and landscaping will be maintained.