Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely Shopko pharmacy business set to close

Ely Community Pharmacy growing to serve more customers

Keith Vandervort
Posted 2/14/19

ELY – The Shopko Hometown retail store here remains on the “go forward” list of operations that will remain open for now, but the pharmacy portion of the business will close within a matter of …

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Ely Shopko pharmacy business set to close

Ely Community Pharmacy growing to serve more customers

Posted

ELY – The Shopko Hometown retail store here remains on the “go forward” list of operations that will remain open for now, but the pharmacy portion of the business will close within a matter of weeks.

The Ashwaubenon, Wis.,-based retailer announced last week that it is closing up to 70 percent of its stores, after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January.

In all, Shopko identified 250 stores around the nation that will close or have already closed. Until last month, Shopko said it operated more than 360 stores in 26 states.

Michelle Hanson, a Shopko public relations spokesperson confirmed to the Timberjay last Friday that the Ely Shopko Hometown is one of 120 top-performing stores that will remain open. “I can tell you that Ely made the list of stores released this week that will stay open,” she said. “However, Shopko is exiting the pharmacy business all together, and that includes the Ely Shopko pharmacy. I do not know when it will actually be closed.”

Liquidations at the closing stores will be carried out in phases. Closings are expected to begin on March 17, with all of these stores closed by May 12. Most stores’ last day will fall on a Sunday, according to Hanson.

In a letter to customers, Shopko says its remaining stores will be open during restructuring. Gift cards, warranties, credits and returns will continue at the open stores. 

Some prescription customers here have already had to switch pharmacies when Shopko announced months ago it would not cover the Platinum Blue prescription program through Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

The Ely Community Pharmacy (ECP) experienced an uptick in business because of the change and has since taken steps to expand their services. The ECP is owned and operated by the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.

ECP is preparing to meet the needs of the Ely community because of the impending Shopko pharmacy closure by adding staff, installing a second checkout and exploring the possibility of expanding hours to include Saturdays, according to Ely hospital CEO Michael Coyle.

ECP is now open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. “Our goal is to expand our hours and be open on Saturdays to better meet the needs of Ely and our surrounding service area,” he said. “It is very important to us that the needs of the community are met to the best of our ability.”

Prescription patients will need to give their permission to have their records transferred from Shopko to ECP. The number of prescription fills at ECP has jumped recently from 150 per day to as many as 400 per day.

“Our second check-out window is up and running now,” Coyle said. “We are adding more staff members and hope to be open on Saturdays starting in early March.” We don’t have drive-thru access, but delivery by mail is available. We are also considering an in-town delivery service, but we don’t know if that is feasible.”

He also pointed to a smart phone app, “RefillRx,” that can be downloaded to make prescription ordering more convenient. “You get a text when your order is ready.”

Contact Ely Community Pharmacy at 218-365-8788 for more information.

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