By now, I’m sure everyone has heard the news that Rite Aid is buying the Brooks and Eckerd chain of drugstores, making it the largest chain on the East Coast.  If you haven’t heard the news, check out these stories:

USA Today:  Rite Aid to buy Brooks, Eckerd
RetailNet.com: Rite Aid confirms Brooks-Eckerd purchase
RTD: Rite Aid to buy Eckerd stores

Now that we’re all caught up on the news, let’s review the consequences underlying this big merger.  In this era of mega-supercenters (a la Walmart and Target), the little guy either learns to adapt and leverage the boutique concept, or they get squeezed out.  We have seen this over and over again in different retail industries.

This is being played out in the pharmacy sector, as well.  On USATODAY.com, the article entitled "Amid Rite Aid deal, independent drug stores ailing" summarizes some of the details that independent pharmacies totaled 47% of all stores in 1994, but they are now only 32% of the total stores.

The only independents I can think of in Richmond are the one on West Cary Street by VCU and Westwood Pharmacy.  Anyone else?

One Thought on “Independent Pharmacies Being Swallowed”

  • Not sure how I feel about this one. I love small business, but I have always believed that if you cant offer a product or service that is in high enough demand to remain profitable, then you shouldnt be in business. Some industries seem to be able to support both small and large versions. Some do not. 24 hour service, wide ranges of products, etc., are a huge advantage in the consumer pharmaceutical arena. The requirements on pharmacists are such that you rarely end up in a situation where your pharmacist is not knolwedgeable. Small stores thrive on expertise and personal service, but the big stores and chains seem to be able to do this almost as well, in addition to better availability in location and hours of operation, as well as the standard pricing and product range aspects that large stores tend to do well in. Pharmacy is also a heavily regulated field, for obvious reasons, and so the expense of a certified pharmacist is comparatively high, another hurdle for the little guys.
    It may be that we should just get used to having a named chain as our drug store, and let the little guys handle other things. There are several small specialty medical shops in town, as well as many convenience stores and such, there just happen to be very few pharmacies. So do we mourn their loss out of a real loss in economic benefit or quality of product and service or is it just a yearning for the days of the corner drug store that was also the grocer that knew you personally. Richmond isnt Mayberry anymore, maybe its time we moved on.
    Small businesses arent going anywhere, they are just changing their face. And, in the case of pharmacies, they may be changing fields too.

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