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Rite Aid’s bankruptcy process will close 31 California stores

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Rite Aid customers in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties are losing neighborhood stores, among 154 locations in 15 states that the pharmacy chain is shutting down as part of its bankruptcy process.

With 31 stores slated for closing, California has more on the list than any other state, according to court documents filed Monday in Rite Aid’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings as the company restructures its debt. Rite Aid had previously said it could close 400 to 500 locations.

“Many of the stores on this list have already closed and received ample notice of the closure, while some will close in the coming weeks,” company spokesperson Alicja Wojczyk wrote in an email.

In Los Angeles, stores in Glassell Park, Mar Vista and Mid-Wilshire were listed on the company’s chopping block, according to court documents.

Throughout L.A. County, Alhambra, Burbank, Covina, Downey, La Mirada, La Puente and Long Beach’s Bixby Knolls locations are also slated for closures.

Orange County has six stores closing, in Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Santa Ana and Yorba Linda.

Ontario’s South Archibald Avenue location is the only store in the Inland Empire closing. Ventura County’s Oxnard store and one of the final two Ventura locations are closed.

The reduction drops the number of Rite Aids in Los Angeles to 15, according to the company’s store tracker. In comparison, there are 66 CVS locations in the city, according to data company ScrapeHero.

The closure of Alhambra’s store marks a retreat from the city; Rite Aid will have closed its last two locations there within the last 24 months.

“It’s definitely a loss for this community to lose two stores that have been there for something like 40, 50 years,” Alhambra Mayor Ross Maza said. “It’s certainly an adjustment, but the good thing in regards to prescriptions is that we have a couple of CVSs and one Walgreens within a mile or two of the location.”

Maza said an equal concern was the void left by a vacant building. Larger retail locations are more challenging to replace tenants, he said, pointing to the previous Rite Aid that closed toward the end of 2022, and that still remains vacant.

“Dark windows and vacant storefronts are always an issue, but we’re working toward filing that spot and hopefully we’ll have luck with whatever happens at this Rite Aid,” he said.

Burbank, Covina, Dana Point, Downey, La Mirada, La Puente, Laguna Niguel, Oxnard and Yorba Linda will also be left without any Rite Aid stores after the latest closures.

Rite Aid’s bankruptcy has raised concerns of so-called pharmacy deserts among some experts who say the planned closures could hurt access to medicine, especially in lower-income Black and Latino communities. Such neighborhoods, with more people on Medicaid and other government-funded healthcare, tend to be targeted by drugstore chains when they decide to close stores, USC pharmacy professor Dima Qato told the Associated Press.

“A decision to close a store is one we take very seriously and is based on a variety of factors, including business strategy, lease and rent considerations, local business conditions and viability, and store performance,” Wojczyk said.

Wojczyk did not say how many employees were ultimately being affected by the closures, only noting, “we will also strive to transfer associates to other Rite Aid locations where possible.”

Company files list Rite Aid employing 45,000 workers nationwide with just over 2,000 stores, including more than 400 in California.

The company owns approximately $4 billion in funded debt, while making roughly $200 million in annual interest payments, according to Rite Aid financials, which has led to an unstable capital structure.

Rite Aid noted that record inflation, elevated labor costs, declining reimbursement rates and reduced need of COVID-19 vaccine and affiliated merchandise has led to a $750-million operating cost for the 2023 fiscal year.

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