Following the transfer of close to 2,000 stores from Rite Aid to Walgreens, the Erwin Rite Aid store made the list for stores that will be closing. The pharmacy will be open for its last day of business on Aug. 9, with the rest of the store remaining open for two weeks to allow for the final sale of products. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Kendal Groner)

By Kendal Groner

Rite Aid customers will soon be finding other storefronts to fulfill their pharmacy needs in light of several store closures across the region, including one in Erwin and Elizabethton.

In March, Rite Aid announced that a store transfer process was completed in which 1,932 stores and related assets were transferred to Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. for cash proceeds of $4.157 billion. Both the Erwin Rite Aid, located at 1252 N. Main Ave., and the Elizabethton Rite Aid, located at 507 West Elk Ave., were included in the transfer process.

After speaking with officials from Walgreens, The Erwin Record was informed that Walgreens will be closing a total of 600 stores, including both those with Walgreens and Rite Aid names. A spokeswoman for Walgreens said that in an effort to optimize the store’s footprint, closures will typically take place whenever two stores are located in close proximity to one another.

“As announced last October, we will be closing some store locations to help ensure we have the right stores in the right locations to create a more focused network of stores that can deliver the greatest value for our customers,” said Allison Mack, media relations manager for Walgreens.

Two of the Walgreens-owned Rite Aids that made the closure list are the Erwin and Elizabethton stores, both of which have a Walgreens about a mile away.

Mack said that the pharmacy at the Erwin Rite Aid store will have its last day of business on Aug. 9, and the rest of the store will remain open for approximately two weeks following the pharmacy closure for a final sale on all products. Patients’ prescription records will be made available at the Walgreens at 401 N. Main Ave. in Erwin.

The Elizabethton Rite Aid will be closing its pharmacy after Aug. 7, with the rest of the store staying open for another two weeks for the final sale of products. Patients’ prescription records will be made available at the Walgreens at 214 Broad St. in Elizabethton.

“We are committed to taking care of our team members throughout this process and expect to have positions at other locations for the majority of store employees who are impacted,” Mack said. “We will be making every effort to find the same or similar positions for team members.”

According to a press release issued by Rite Aid in March, transfers of Rite Aid distribution centers and related assets should only see minimal closing conditions because the majority of closing conditions have already been satisfied.

“While we will be closing some stores in the Bristol market, we will also be investing in the community through the process of converting other Walgreens-owned Rite Aid stores to the Walgreens brand,” said Mack.

Other Walgreens-owned Rite Aids will also be converted to the Walgreens brand, a process that is expected to begin later this year and continue in phases over approximately 18 months, said Mack. Mack did not yet have information on which specific Walgreens-owned Rite Aid stores in the region would be converted over to the Walgreens brand.

Also in their March press release was the announcement that Rite Aid’s board of directors had terminated the tax benefits preservation plan (the “Plan”) that was adopted on Jan. 3, 2018.

On Aug. 9, a Special Meeting of Stockholders will be held to vote on a proposed merger deal between Rite Aid and Albertsons Companies, an American grocery store company.