Shopko Optical opened its own separate office in Billings on Monday, and said there was no lapse in service for patients.
The optical center has remained open in the old Shopko store since it closed over the summer, after the Wisconsin-based Shopko chain filed for bankruptcy protection in January and announced in March the nationwide closure of all stores. The Shopko pharmacy also closed in February following the bankruptcy filing and prescriptions were taken over by Walgreens.
The Optical Center separated itself from Shopko over the summer, and is now operating as its own LLC, as an affiliate of Monarch Alternative Capital LP, a private investment firm out of New York.
On Monday Shopko Optical made the official switch from its previous location on 24th Street W. to down the road at 316 S. 24th St. W.
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The Billings location is one of 80 new locations expected to open by the end of 2019, according to a company spokesperson. The company is about halfway through its goal, she said.
The new location has the same number of employees, the spokesperson said. She didn't know if the patient base had shrunk in the wake of the closure, or during the move. She also wasn't able to say how long the move took but said a "seamless transition" is expected.
Existing optometrists Drs. John Gingrich and Douglas Gratwohl will continue to serve Billings-area patients, according to a press release.
“By opening this store in Billings, we aim to continue to support residents with high-quality services and superior products that they have come to trust from Shopko Optical,” said Shopko Optical CEO Russ Steinhorst in a press release. “Our goal is to build trusted and lasting relationships between the residents of Billings and optometrists Dr. John Gingrich and Dr. Douglas Gratwohl.”