April 25, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
The Rite Aid store on Austin Street will close next week — adding to the growing list of locations the company is shuttering across Queens and the nation.
The 71-14 Austin St. Rite Aid will shut down on May 2 as part of a corporate restructuring plan where nearly 150 stores across the country are slated to close, according to a company spokesperson.
Employees at the Austin Street store were notified about the impending closure Tuesday, leaving many of them stunned and angry.
“It’s very messed up, we are really upset,” said one employee, a Forest Hills resident who has been a pharmacy technician at the store for 7 years.
The worker said the company did not provide them with sufficient notice about the closure.
“We feel scammed, no one told us before last week,” the employee, who didn’t want to disclose her name, said.
The worker said that around 20 employees work at the store and belong to a union. She said that their union membership has proven worthless in terms of saving their jobs.
“It was basically a waste to be part of the union because they don’t really help and are not sticking by us.”
Rite Aid, she said, is not providing suitable job alternatives for the workers at the store.
The company, however, said in a statement that it is in the process of trying to secure alternative employment for its employees.
A corporate spokesperson for Rite Aid did not specify why the Forest Hills store was selected to close but did note that the closures are based on a number of reasons.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
The company said it had taken measures to ensure customers will receive their prescriptions.
“We review every neighborhood to ensure our customers will have access to health services, be it at Rite Aid or a nearby pharmacy, and we work to seamlessly transfer their prescriptions so there is no disruption of services,” the company said in a statement.
The Austin Street store serves a large number of residents, with the 10,000 square foot store also including a separate entrance on 71st Avenue next to the LIRR station. The location is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The closest Rite Aid to the Forest Hills store is more than a mile away at 95-14 63rd Dr.
It is unclear what will become of the Forest Hills store. No building permits have been filed with the city.
The Austin Street store is the latest in a wave of Rite Aid closures throughout the borough.
The Rite Aid on Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside, for instance, is shuttering today while two Rite Aids in Astoria have recently closed – a store at 32-14 31st St. and at 32-87 Steinway St.
Rite Aid is not the only pharmacy chain closing locations in Queens.
On Feb.15, Walgreens closed its 47-07 Broadway store in Astoria and its Bayside location at 39-20 Bell Blvd.
There is a new CVS on Queens Blvd and 71st. Then two blocks down there is a Walgreens then another two blocks down there is a Rite Aid on 75th and Queens Blvd.
What did everyone do before this store? I am old enough to remember when this was a Woolworth then a Foot Locker. This isn’t the end of the world here… now if only some of these banks and mobile phone stores would close down. That would be great as there are far too many.
The union is not responsible if the employer is the one who takes away your job. The union is responsible for ensuring when you work you are compensated according to your contracts. When the employer, not the union, decides to leave you without employment and last minute notice, you union will help to ensure your termination agreement is carried out properly. Your union is not the one who pays you.
The Rite Aid’s prices were excessive during a recent visit. I avoid buying anything from stores if possible. For instance, Tylenol prices are outrageous. I can go to the Dollar Tree in Bayside and get a bottle of Acetaminophen for $1.50. The quality my be dubious but I can’t afford Rite Aid’s prices.
This is absolutely disgusting! I live approximately three blocks away from the Rite Aid that is closing, and there is always a line of customers inside the store. Obviously, Rite Aid does not understand what’s transpiring in around stores. Just another reason for me to continue on using Walgreens as my pharmacy.
What do you think about the old folks What will probably do with out this store because its the only one I the neighborhood. But now GOTTA go over to one on 63rd REGO park. But some these old folks don’t even drive. They GOTTA take the subway or the bus
Its not the union’s fault these people were let go.if it wasn’t for unions they wouldn’t have benefits. Besides the union can’t tell thier partner companies they must keep them. When everything goes wrong they blame it on the Union that’s not fair at all When everything goes wrong they blame it on the Union that’s not fair at all…
What is happening to our prescriptions needed currently ?
I feel this is terrible that rite aid, Walgreens are closing. Hopefully CVS does not close. Hope the pharmacy stores do not close. Where will people be getting their medications and other items. It is also disgusting that people belong to unions and the unions do not do a blessed thing for anyone people need to earn a living to meet daily expenses.
This is part of the big shakeout in the drug store sector that’s now coming on. These chains proliferated like crazy over the past several years while they were trying to edge out one another for market share and merger positioning. Rite Aid with 2 failed mergers over the past few years (with Walgreens and west coast chain Albertsons) has proven to be the big loser in this game of musical chairs. Lots of these chain drug stores are going to close over the next few years, now that the mergers and consolidations are mostly over, and as befits the loser many of them will be Rite Aids.
Such a disservice to the community. Many seniors and locals rely on Rite Aid for meds and other essentials. To get their meds will now have long wait times and standing lines. A bad choice which will make local s wait long lines to get their RX
there are other drug stores in the area and most if not all deliver.