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Third Rite Aid to close in Grand Traverse County

A Rite Aid in Traverse City, soon to be the third in Grand Traverse County to close this year.
Lauren Rice
A Rite Aid in Traverse City, soon to be the third in Grand Traverse County to close this year.

The bankruptcy of Rite Aid Corp. is prompting the closure of pharmacies across the country – and throughout Grand Traverse County.

Dan Stiebel with Coldwell Realty confirmed he is part of the lease and sale of two locations: one at Chums Corners, which is becoming a party store; and another on 14th street, which is still available for lease.

Those buildings became available in January 2023, he said.

The pharmacy part of the Rite Aid store located at Front Street and Garfield Avenue will be closing this Thursday, less than five years after the store opened. The rest of the store will remain open until mid-August.

“It’s probably a difficulty space to fill, with such a large space and minimal parking,” Stiebel said. “Because it’s on the corner, it’ll be more expensive for the visibility and prime location.”

He estimated that the building space is worth several million dollars.

Commercial neighbors like Dawnette Wessell, owner of Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, want a new tenant that will be friendly and complement their own businesses, too. Other businesses in that plaza are Hungry Howie’s and Starbucks, which, unlike Bardon’s, belong to the same landlord as the same piece of property.

“(I’d like) any kind of store that would bring in a little bit of business that wants to come over and have ice cream or go and have coffee,” she said, referring to shared business as customers make multiple stops in the same plaza.

Wessell said she had a good working relationship with the Rite Aid owners, coordinating the parking lot and flow of traffic. But the ideal neighbor might add windows or a mural to increase visibility, she said.

From a landlord’s perspective, Stiebel said another pharmacy as a tenant would be ideal because the building wouldn’t have to be modified and pharmacies tend to be reliable sources of income.

“Each store needs specific changes done for them,” he said. “Even if it was a CVS, they would still need new signage. A landlord would generally prefer whatever would be the least changes to the property.”

Rite Aid did not respond to requests for comment at the corporate or local level.

According to Bridge Michigan, Rite Aid closures could include all of its 185 stores in the state after the company sought Chapter 11 protection in October 2023.

The United Food and Commercial Workers international union released a statement from its president following the bankruptcy announcement: “As the union that represents more than 10,000 essential Rite Aid workers across the country, the UFCW’s highest priority will always be to defend and protect our hard-working union members.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a reporter’s error. The day of the closure of the Rite Aid store at the corner of Garfield Avenue and Front Street was incorrect. The pharmacy is closing Thursday, July 11, while the store is expected to remain open until Aug. 18. — July 11, 2024

Lauren Rice is a newsroom intern for WCMU based at the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
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