Officials say some Pamida stores will close as part of the merger with Shopko, but it’s still unclear how many, if any, will be shuttered in Iowa. Shopko, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, announced earlier this month it will take over Pamida, headquartered in Omaha.

There are six Shopko stores and 30 Pamidas in Iowa. Shopko spokeswoman Tara Powers says the two companies have been linked in the past, but only behind the scenes. “Shopko and Pamida were one company back in the early 2000s, but at that time, they were really run as two separate organizations and they shared some back office functions but they were largely independent of one another,” Powers says.

“The difference today is they are truly merging together under the Shopko banner as one company, one corporate office.” While some company mergers are just done on a balance sheet, she says customers will see big changes at Pamida locations.

The Pamida name will be eliminated and most product lines changed. “Shopko Hometown carries a much larger assortment of certain categories, like apparel and home merchandise and they have a big emphasis on national brands,” Powers says. “The product mix that consumers will see when they come into the store is going to be very, very different from what they’re used to at Pamida.”

No changes are planned at any of the Shopko stores, but some $80-million will be invested over the next year to convert most of the 193 Pamida stores into Shopko Hometown stores this year. Combined, the new chain will have almost 350 stores in 22 states. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The merger is expected to close in mid-February. “The two companies looked at the retail landscape together and see that there is a lot of opportunity to serve smaller communities,” Powers says. “(Customers) currently have to drive anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to go into a larger town to go to Walmart or Target to get everything they need. The idea with a Shopko Hometown store is they can get everything they need in a smaller footprint store right in their own community.”

There are currently Pamida stores in 30 Iowa cities: Albia, Audubon, Bloomfield, Chariton, Clarion, Corydon, Dyersville, Eldora, Estherville, Forest City, Glenwood, Greenfield, Harlan, Humboldt, Hampton, Ida Grove, Jefferson, Missouri Valley, Mount Ayr, New Hampton, Oelwein, Onowa, Osceola, Perry, Red Oak, Sheldon, Sigourney, Toledo, Waukon and Winterset.

There are now six Shopko stores in the state: Burlington, Council Bluffs, Dubuque, Fort Madison, Mason City and Sioux City.