Latest News Shopko Debuts Three Freestanding Optical Stores and Plans for Additional Locations By Staff Thursday, January 3, 2019 12:27 AM GREEN BAY, Wis.—Shopko Stores, one of the nation’s larger optical retail businesses, opened its first three freestanding Shopko Optical locations over the final months of 2018, according to a company spokeswoman. The new freestanding Shopko Optical Centers are located in Mequon, Oshkosh and Waukesha, Wis., and these locations “are three of up to 15 freestanding locations planned as part of our growth strategy,” the spokeswoman told VMAIL. In addition, Shopko added an optical center in its Appleton, Wis., Shopko Express store last fall. Shopko operated about 135 optical locations within its traditional discount stores as of year-end 2017 and ranked as the 17th largest optical retailer in the U.S., according to Vision Monday’s annual Top 50 Optical Retailers report.The move to expand its growing optical business comes as the retailer reduces its overall store count. Shopko had announced plans last fall to close 39 stores, but “after careful consideration and conversations with community stakeholders, and receiving financial support from our landlord, Shopko made the decision to keep four [of these] stores open,” the spokeswoman noted. The closings of the other 35 locations are scheduled for February 2019. “The decision to close these locations is designed to strengthen our financial position, provide enhanced profitability and allow us to invest in new initiatives,” the spokeswoman said. She noted that, despite the commitment and dedication of employees at the affected stores, “as we reviewed the long-term outlook on profitability, sales trends and potential growth, we made the difficult decision to close these locations.”At the same time, Shopko sees growth opportunities within its optical business. Two of the new freestanding optical centers held grand-opening events in December. “Like our traditional centers, we are focused on delivering excellent patient care at a great value,” Kirk Lauterback, Shopko’s director of optical services, said in an announcement about the store openings. “We are also proud to offer one of the area's best selections of eyeglass frames.”Founded in 1962 and based here in Green Bay, Shopko Stores Operating Co. is a $3 billion retailer that operates about 350-370 stores. Retail formats include 126 traditional Shopko stores, which provide name-brand merchandise, pharmacy and optical services in small to mid-sized cities; five Shopko Express Rx stores, a convenient neighborhood drugstore concept; six Shopko Pharmacy locations, three freestanding Shopko Optical locations and 234 Shopko Hometown stores, a smaller concept store developed to meet the needs of smaller communities, according to the retailer’s website.