YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Walgreens and Rite Aid have been battling for your prescriptions, with 20 Walgreens across the Valley and nearly 50 Rite Aid stores.
But this week, Walgreens announced that it was purchasing Rite Aid, creating a drugstore giant combining the companies’ nearly 18,000 stores around the world. The impact to business nationally, as well as locally is yet unknown.
Struthers resident Chris Williams said she does not see the deal affecting her much.
“I typically go to Walgreens more, probably because it’s closer to where I live, but I really find them both kind of similar — prices, what they offer, sales and specials, and things like that,” she said.
Americans spent 13 percent more on drugs last year than in 2013. A combined chain could allow them to get better deals from drug makers.
“It just sounds big — all the Walgreens and all the Rite Aids as one. It just sounds like a big, large, endeavor, and I kinda like small, hometown things better,” Williams said.
Many times when you see a Walgreens, you can walk across the street to find a Rite Aid. Companies make $17 billion deals to make money, and chances are, in these locations, only one building will be left standing.
There are eight locations where the two stores are within two blocks of one another in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys. So how will this week’s deal affect those locations?
“I absolutely would want Walgreens to stay open. I really wouldn’t want anyone to lose their job, so if it’s going to cost people their jobs, I would prefer them both to stay open,” said Niles resident Tonia Thomas.
One location where two stores compete across the street is on Midlothian Avenue in Youngstown. It is located near a former Bottom Dollar food store, which closed recently.
Drugstores have very limited food options, so that is a very small concern. The big impact will be — are two locations needed so close?
“Obviously, in Austintown, we don’t want to have empty buildings. We have enough of those.,” said Austintown Township Trustee Rick Stauffer.
Route 46 and Mahoning Avenue is another of the Mahoning Valley locations where Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacies are right across the street from each other.
“I think, as Austintown, we need to not be reactionary to wonder who’s going to fill that building than we as leadership in Austintown should be thinking, ‘Who do we want to be there to make Austintown good and great?'” Stauffer said.
Walgreens and Rite Aids are also in the same block in Cornersburg, Salem, Cortland and Sharon, and there are very close locations on Belmont Avenue.
The company has not released any plans yet for combining its stores, but 33 WYTV News will continue to follow the merger and let you know what it decides. The earliest the merger will take place is July.