Opatz takes helm as manager of Shopko

Matt Opatz started as Shopko’s new manager about three weeks ago.

Princeton – Matt Opatz started as the new manager at Shopko three weeks ago after a six-week training session in Mora. Opatz likes the feel of his new community, he said.
“I like small-town atmosphere, which you get in Princeton,” Opatz said.
He grew up and graduated high school in Fergus Falls, where he worked for Shopko for seven years. He was intrigued to hear about the manager opportunity in Princeton, and it is his first job as “the” store manager.
Opatz had once come to Princeton for a month from Fergus Falls to help when the local store was in a manager transition. He stayed at the AmericInn and said his experience in town was positive. Opatz has family in Rogers and Cambridge; he said his cousin came over recently, and the two attended a Princeton baseball game.
Opatz has racked up 13 years of retail experience. He started working at Kmart while he was still in high school and learned a lot about retail work while there. He said it was a connection through a former Kmart manager that prompted him to apply for his first job with Shopko, subsequently working as apparel supervisor and then assistant manager.
Opatz lives in St. Cloud and said he might eventually move to Princeton. For now, he’s settling in after having moved from Fergus Falls and taking the first management job of his career. The 31-year-old said people often mistake him for much younger than he is, especially when he isn’t sporting facial hair, and customers are often surprised when he introduces himself as the store manager.
He said the most rewarding part about his job is when “you put someone in a position they like and watch them succeed.” Opatz said Shopko has about 26 employees at the Princeton store, about 10 of whom are full time. He said the schedule includes people who work everything from four to 40 hours per week. He credits interim manager Ashley Kluesner for filling in as manager the past six months or so.
He also appreciates positive feedback, he said.
“There’s nothing better than when somebody writes a good comment about a teammate who went above and beyond (to serve a customer),” he said.
Opatz said retail is rarely boring because it’s different every day. People think it’s just stocking shelves, but it involves critical thinking, problem solving, people skills and more, including a commitment to understanding each person’s perspective.
Right now, the store is in full-on springtime frenzy mode with the lawn and garden center as the main focus. Flowers, grass seed, weed killer, fertilizer, garden tools and other implements for outdoor work are flying off the garden center shelves. Opatz characterizes it as a little chaotic but in a good way, and he expects the chaos to calm soon.
He suspects that for a while, he won’t have much free time, but when he does, he likes sports, especially baseball and hockey. He said hockey is the only sport he participates in, but he’s never played organized team hockey; he’s one to grab his skates on a good night and go see who has a pickup game.
Opatz said his mom still lives in Fergus Falls, as does one of his sisters. He has another sister who lives in Fargo and said both locations are within a reasonable driving distance. Opatz said Princeton seems like a great fit for him because it gives him the small-town feel he likes yet keeps him “a sneeze away” from sports venues and other recreation in the Twin Cities.