Newton Falls – No, it wasn’t Black Friday. No, it wasn’t a Harry Potter midnight release party. And no, a famous celebrity from one of those vampire movies wasn’t making an impromptu appearance. But judging by the line of customers outside the door during the early hours of last Thursday morning, the store formerly known as Pamida was the place to be.

Whitman hopes started off his "pay-it-forward" goal on a positive note by donating $2,500 to the Newton Falls High School.
Whitman hopes started off his “pay-it-forward” goal on a positive note by donating $2,500 to the Newton Falls High School.

Recently rebranded as Shopko by the parent company that owns both the Pamida and the Shopko chains, the store celebrated its grand opening and welcomed visitors with refreshments, limited-time sales and door prizes, not to mention the special treat of a $10 gift card for the first 100 customers in line. Those one hundred vouchers were handed out quite quickly as there were that many townspeople ready and waiting before the official ceremonies even started, and the recipients spent them just as fast once the doors were opened.

The festivities started off with brief speeches by the store manager, JT Whitman, Newton Falls mayor and recently-elected president of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association, Lyle Waddell, and Ohio State Representative, Sean O’Brien, who all included gratitude and congratulations for the various organizations, employees, and city officials who worked together to bring this project to fruition in their remarks. The support from the community for this “new” business was evident by the crowd that had gathered to officially welcome in the newest Shopko location to Newton Falls. The next closest Pamida store is in Minerva and has also been converted to a Shopko. Whitman hopes the Newton Falls Shopko will continue to be a supportive member of the business community and started off that pay-it-forward goal on a positive note by donating $2,500 to the Newton Falls High School.

Concluding the speeches, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held inviting all in attendance into the updated facility which features a brighter interior, a more user-friendly layout, and a wider selection of products while maintaining local favorites. Noticeable right away is the shoe department which has been moved to the front of the store and includes popular brands such as Nike and an assortment of styles from Payless – no need to go all the way up to the mall for a new pair of your favorite kicks. Like many retail companies these days, Shopko also now offers a shopper loyalty card program which includes a rotation of discounts for various products. Sign up for their email list and receive $5 off a future purchase. For more information on all that the hometown store offers, stop on in or visit the virtual counterpart at

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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.