In recent weeks, the press has highlighted the existence of closed Rite Aid stores throughout Buffalo. Although it is true that some sites that formerly housed Rite Aids are presently vacant, that presentation significantly distorts what is occurring.
Rite Aid presently has 21 stores with more than 400 employees in the City of Buffalo. In comparison, Eckerd has 7, CVS has 5 and Walgreens has 3. Rite Aid properties in the city receive no special subsidy, have combined real estate assessments totaling more than $20 million, and pay more than $1 million in real estate taxes on both their open and closed stores.
In recent years, Rite Aid has committed to and undertaken an extensive reinvestment plan in the city, despite the challenging demographics of the region. Their new modern prototype store features a redesigned interior layout offering better presentation, greater shopping convenience and superior inventory and pharmaceutical technologies. Furthermore, they have upgraded or added stores in just about every neighborhood business district throughout the city.
In many cases, new stores are built upon vacant or blighted properties that were paying little or no property tax. The new buildings are aesthetically appealing structures, often designed at the request of neighborhood residents to compliment the appearance of adjacent structures, and provide improved well-lit parking areas, walkways and landscaping.
These stores contribute significantly to the quality, convenience and availability of competitively priced goods and services for all residents including the elderly and disadvantaged in many of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods.
As a result of Rite Aid's reinvestment, a number of former stores were vacated. These properties continue to be maintained, pay full-value property taxes and create new business opportunities for other retailers unable to afford new construction.
While most retailers remain reluctant to invest in Buffalo, Rite Aid continues to increase its investment and its retailing presence in the city.
Despite the disadvantages and challenges of doing business in the city, Rite Aid remains committed to providing the broad array of products and services so dearly needed in our inner city communities, and their closed stores allow other retailers to do business in locations that would otherwise be financially prohibitive.
CARL P. PALADINO