Shawano Pick ‘n Save closing its doors

Company says 65 workers will lose their jobs

Leader Photo by Greg Mellis The Shawano Pick ‘n Save informed employees Wednesday that they will be closing no later then June 23. The store employs 65 people.

The owners of Pick ‘n Save in Shawano announced Thursday they are closing the grocery store, a move that will displace about 65 employees and leave many shoppers disappointed.

“It’s just a sad day,” shopper John Gishkowsky said in the parking lot after learning from employees that the store was closing after 27 years in operation.

Scheduled to occur no later than June 23, the closure will create a major vacancy in the Shawano Plaza shopping center, 128 Woodlawn Drive, which lost both Kmart and JC Penney in recent years.

The move comes 18 months after Pick ‘n Save’s parent company, Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc., was acquired by the Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati.

In a statement released Thursday after rumors of the store closing had surfaced, Roundy’s announced that the Shawano store and another store in Milwaukee were shutting down, leaving a combined 152 employees without jobs.

“After careful consideration of the long-term financial performance of these two stores,” the statement said, “our efforts did not bring about the results needed to meet our business goals and objectives.”

Shawano Mayor Jeanne Cronce said she was saddened to hear the community was losing one of its major grocery stores — and the jobs that come with it.

“It is very disappointing and sad for everybody involved,” Cronce said.

Employees at the Shawano store were notified on Wednesday.

News of the closing quickly reached the Shawano County Job Center, where officials began making plans to help the displaced workers.

Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, said his agency would reach out to Pick ‘n Save and assure employees that all of them would be eligible for assistance applying for unemployment benefits, searching for new jobs and possibly even retraining for new jobs.

“It’s always difficult for the workers,” Golembeski said. “We’ll find out who’s involved and what they need.”

Roundy’s said the Shawano store has 65 employees and that all of them would be offered a chance to work for Pick ‘n Save outlets in other communities.

Originally located across town under a different name, the Pick ‘n Save store moved to newer and bigger space in 1990 when the Shawano Plaza shopping center was developed. Its competitors in the local grocery business in recent years have included Charlie’s County Market, Aldi Foods, which is expanding, and Walmart.

County Market owner Charlie Harvey said Thursday that while losing Pick ‘n Save is a setback for the community, he said the workers losing their jobs should remember that consumers locally will still have the same shopping needs. Harvey said his store and others are always looking for good workers.

“I wish them well,” he said of the Pick ‘n Save employees. “They’re certainly welcome to come and see me.”

Pick ‘n Save shoppers said it will take some time for them to get over the disappointment of losing their favorite store.

Sue O’Connor, who said she shops at Pick ‘n Save several times a week, said she enjoys the fresh quality of merchandise available there, as well as the reasonable prices. O’Connor said she had no idea where she would go for groceries after Pick ‘n Save closes.

“I am devastated,” she said. “I am just heartbroken.”

Since the store’s parent company was acquired by Kroger in late 2015, rumors have surfaced periodically that the Shawano store was either closing or was getting a makeover. Just recently, the store promoted future job opportunities by announcing a “Hiring Event” that was coming Saturday.

While some stores included in the Kroger deal have undergone remodeling in other communities, others have been slated for closure, including two in the Milwaukee suburbs put on the chopping block just this week.

The closure announcement in Shawano creates uncertainty for other retailers located in Shawano Plaza, a property that rebounded somewhat from the Kmart and JC Penney losses with the more recent addition of Dunham’s Sports and the J Merchant clothing store.

J Merchant employee Linda Hanley said proximity to the Pick ‘n Save was one reason her store settled in Shawano Plaza in 2015. After the grocery store is gone, Hanley said, the shopping center will have to depend largely on discounter Dollar Tree to draw foot traffic.

“It’s kind of a shocker,” she said of the Pick ‘n Save closure.

Officials at RCG Ventures LLC, the Atlanta-based owner of Shawano Plaza, could not be reached for comment.

Cronce said efforts to find a new tenant would begin quickly. The vacated Pick ‘n Save space could accommodate either another grocery store or something entirely new, she said.

“The opportunity is there for something,” she said.