Mar 21, 2024 - News

Rite Aid on Woodward is latest Midtown retail closure

Inside the Rite Aid at 4612 Woodward Ave. on March 17.

Inside the Rite Aid at 4612 Woodward Ave. on March 17. Photos: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Longtime customers are questioning the closure of a Rite Aid on a busy stretch of Woodward Avenue.

Why it matters: Next month's scheduled closure means many Midtown residents, some who get around on foot or via public transportation, will have to travel farther for small groceries and prescriptions.

  • The store has been serving residents in the area for nearly 20 years.

State of play: Customers have until March 25 to use its pharmacy — the store is set to close entirely on April 21, and there already are plenty of empty shelves.

What they're saying: Above the Rite Aid in the Albert Kahn building are the Garfield Lofts, a 56-unit collection of apartments where rent starts around $1,400.

  • "I bought my cat litter here," says Spenser Whittle, who lives in one of the apartments. "It's a bummer because it doesn't seem to be doing bad business-wise. A lot of people come here."
  • Landlord Christine Jonna, of Jonna Companies, told the Free Press the store's sales were going up. "It wasn't a matter of rent," she said.

The big picture: The Rite Aid joins other retail shops in the area that have closed recently.

  • The Starbucks on Mack Avenue closed last year over safety issues, including incidents of theft, verbal harassment and assault, the Free Press reported.
  • Midtown Inc.'s former director Sue Mosey told the Detroit News she hoped a new coffee shop would take Starbucks' place. That hasn't happened yet.
Detroit police outside the entrance of the Rite Aid on Woodward.
Detroit police outside the entrance of the Rite Aid on Woodward.

Between the lines: Police officers have been patrolling the location "for some time, and [have] made several arrests for retail fraud there," DPD spokesperson Jackson Vidaurri told Axios in a statement.

  • Several officers were guarding the front entrance of the store last week. The effort was part of the department's "overall crime strategy in this area," Vidaurri tells Axios.
  • Rite Aid's corporate spokesperson didn't return a call or reply to messages for comment.

Context: The pharmacy chain filed for bankruptcy last year and obtained $3.45 billion in financing to carry out a restructuring plan amid falling sales and opioid-related lawsuits.

Zoom out: The closings are leaving some worried about "pharmacy deserts" in areas with large Black and Hispanic populations, the Associated Press reports.

The bottom line: There have been a string of pharmacy losses along Woodward's retail corridor since 2018.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Detroit.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Detroit stories

No stories could be found

Detroitpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Detroit.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more