By Juliet Martinez, managing editor
Photo 1: Staff of the Second Avenue Rite Aid on Dec. 4, from left: Pete Turrill (certified pharmacy technician), Marquis Carter (pharmacy technician), Janelle Coleman (assistant manager), Erin Rossiter (pharmacist), Dave Harms (store manager), Deb Cerase (assistant manager), Bip Karki (pharmacy manager). Photo 2: Tracy Reynolds waited for a ride inside the Second Avenue Rite Aid on Nov. 30. Photo 3: Inshira Shahid (left) and Johnny Spell (right) chatted outside the Rite Aid on Nov. 30. Photo 4: Assistant manager Deb Cerase (left) said goodbye on Dec. 3 to Hazelwood resident and community advocate Robert McCune. Photo 5: Susan McGregor ran a final errand at the Second Avenue Rite Aid on Nov. 30.
The Rite Aid pharmacy on Second Avenue, and the Key Bank branch inside it, have closed. The Dec. 4 closure was part of changes the company made after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. The Downtown location on Smithfield Avenue and the Salzburg Road location in Penn Hills are also closing.
The Key Bank ATM will stay in service. Prescriptions from the Second Avenue store were transferred to the CVS at 4664 Browns Hill Road.
An Oct. 15 press release from Rite Aid said it will resolve litigation claims – that is, opioid lawsuit settlements – and work to repay its lenders as well as continuing its “store footprint optimization plan.” That’s corporate jargon for shuttering retail locations.
No matter what they call it, closing the Second Avenue location is going to affect the people who shopped, got their medicines and did their banking there.
Here is what some former Rite Aid shoppers had to say about it closing.
“I’m mad about them closing and I’m mad about the one Downtown,” said Hazelwood resident Tracy Reynolds on Nov. 30. She added that she does not like that the scripts were transferred to the Browns Hill Road CVS pharmacy. “I like Rite Aid. I don’t like CVS. I don’t like Walgreens. I like Rite Aid.”
“It’s atrocious,” said Susan McGregor, a longtime Hazelwood resident.
Ms. McGregor said she will miss the Rite Aid and Key Bank staff. She has gotten to know them over the years while doing her banking and getting prescriptions filled.
“I’m just really, really sad to see them go,” she said.
Inshira Shahid, who grew up in Hazelwood and now visits her father here every day, echoed that feeling. She said she liked the convenience of banking and getting prescriptions in the same place. “It’s really messed up that they did this.”
Johnny Spell moved to a home on Lytle Street about a year ago but said the Rite Aid closure was making the neighborhood less convenient for him. “Everything I got to do is everywhere else,” he said.
Residents who got their prescriptions filled at the Rite Aid can go to the Browns Hill Road CVS or try a closer option.
“I hate to see any business close down, but we welcome any customer from Rite Aid here and we’ll be happy to take care of them,” said Joe Reich, owner of Elizabeth Pharmacy.
Located at the corner of Second Avenue and Elizabeth Street, the 113-year-old store sells money orders and accepts utility payments. They also deliver for free in the area.
Mr. Reich said transferring a prescription to Elizabeth Pharmacy is a matter of going in and supplying a few personal details and an insurance card. The pharmacy can then contact CVS and retrieve the script.