Online discussions about East Falls’ first round of rezoning included opinions about who might buy if St. Bridget’s was selling — and a side bar about how Walgreens is close to buying out Rite Aid. What’s this mean for our neighborhood? A local pharmacist weighs in.
Some folks on Facebook’s “I’m From East Falls” group fret that the new commercial zoning proposed for St. Bridget’s property on Midvale might pave the way for a giant 24-hour Walgreens here. Apparently, RiteAid’s plot up the street can’t be expanded but this big ole parking lot across from the train station probably looks like a great location. For Walgreens.
But does the neighborhood want a “huge, bright, obnoxious” drug store here?
Or do we want some say as to how this thing looks — like how Chestnut Hill’s McDonald’s has to conform to the historic neighborhood streetscape?
We better figure out soon, if you believe Anthony English’s prediction: “There will be a Walgreens on Midvale in a year or so. Once it goes thru, the Rite Aid (and all the Rite Aid stores) get changed over. Unless they decide it’s too small, and close it.”
Since the intricacies of a business merger this huge are beyond us (and also, frankly, quite boring, ha), we pulled in help from a local in the biz who could break it down for us, Kofi Gbomita, owner of East Falls Pharmacy on Conrad. Here’s his scoop:
“Walgreens, the nation’s biggest pharmacy chain, is angling for Rite-Aid in a $17 billion deal. This could double Walgreens locations in the state, resulting in as many as 12,000 new stores.
“The Federal Trade Commission is looking over the paperwork now but, contrary to popular belief, this is not a done deal. Obama’s administration has been getting wary of Big Healthcare — three insurance mergers are already under antitrust review this year. If approved, Rite Aid’s acquisition could result in the closing of thousands of stores. We should know something later this year.”
What does it mean for our Midvale Rite Aid? With two other Rite Aids and a Walgreens within two miles, perhaps online speculation is correct to be counting the days till this store is history?
THINK LOCAL! Drive thru, schmive thru — switch your ‘scripts to East Falls Pharmacy for FREE HOME DELIVERY. Support small business in our community, especially the guys who take the time to talk shop with us. They’ve even got a mobile app, with speed-dial access to your records and account.
For generations, corner pharmacies like Kofi’s were a neighborhood’s wellness hub, often “the first line of defense” before the doctor. Today, East Falls Pharmacy connects clients to a global network of medical professionals for a holistic approach to maintaining healthy, pain-free lives.
If our community organizations have some teeth, they can ask that the design for the drug store be more contextual (as you’re showing with the Chestnut Hill McDonald’s). I was involved in a project where another national drug store chain (CVS) tried to bring a big box store model into a Center City neighborhood, and the neighborhood association rejected the design, demanding something that fit better with the surrounding context. I know CVS regularly does provide “contextual architecture” — not sure about Walgreen’s. The issue is the development needs to require variances in order to go before a joint meeting of EFF and EFCC zoning.
There are two sudes to that coin: If our community organizations have a reputation for having teeth (fangs, really), businesses will simply look elsewhere.
The trick is getting that coin to stand balanced on its edge……