Goodbye Eckerd (Rite Aid buys Eckerd and Brooks Drugs)

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Edric Floyd
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Goodbye Eckerd (Rite Aid buys Eckerd and Brooks Drugs)

Post by Edric Floyd » 24 Aug 2006 17:17

Rite Aid is buying Eckerd and will become the third largest drug store chain behind Walgreens and CVS.

NEWS ARTICLE http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/business/15345377.htm

This will also mean the final end of the Eckerd name as Rite Aid plans to convert the Eckerd stores to Rite Aid.

Part of the Eckerd chain was sold to CVS in 2004 and this eliminated the legendary Eckerd store chain from my native state of Florida where Jack Eckerd was the dominant drug store chain.

It was very common to find a Winn-Dixie or a Publix side by side with an Eckerd Drugs store in a shopping center in Florida where I grew up. And there were many former examples in Georgia.

I will be taking photos of Eckerd stores before they go and I'll get some of the older Eckerd stores that were abandoned for larger free standing locations in recent years. Eckerd was just as active in building new stores as CVS and Walgreens were.

RIP Eckerd

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Groceteria
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Post by Groceteria » 24 Aug 2006 18:09

This one's making me pretty sad too, and not just because I'm not a big Rite-Aid fan to begin with.

Yer Humble Host has been shopping at Eckerd since the days when it still allowed people to call it Eckerd's. Most of my prescriptions as a kid came from there, I've eaten at their soda fountains, I bought cigarettes there when I was underage (and still smoked), and I was mesemerized by their big neon signs until they went away.

They were the "big" drugstore in Greensboro. Everywhere else (Rite-Aid, Revco, etc.) seemed small and amateurish by comparison. In Winston-Salem, where I live now, they've still retained a surprising number of their old stores within shopping centers rather than relocating to outparcels. The cool signs and soda fountains, alas, are long gone.

Eckerd is a name I'm really going to miss.

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Charlotte NC location near Trade and Tryon, demolished circa 1989.

Edric Floyd
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Post by Edric Floyd » 24 Aug 2006 23:04

Groceteria wrote:This one's making me pretty sad too, and not just because I'm not a big Rite-Aid fan to begin with.

Yer Humble Host has been shopping at Eckerd since the days when it still allowed people to call it Eckerd's. Most of my prescriptions as a kid came from there, I've eaten at their soda fountains, I bought cigarettes there when I was underage (and still smoked), and I was mesemerized by their big neon signs until they went away.

They were the "big" drugstore in Greensboro. Everywhere else (Rite-Aid, Revco, etc.) seemed small and amateurish by comparison. In Winston-Salem, where I live now, they've still retained a surprising number of their old stores within shopping centers rather than relocating to outparcels. The cool signs and soda fountains, alas, are long gone.

Eckerd is a name I'm really going to miss.

Image

Charlotte NC location near Trade and Tryon, demolished circa 1989.

I also have been shopping at Eckerd for a lifetime. But in South Florida I never saw an Eckerd with a soda fountain/restaurant. There were a few Walgreens that had a "grill". But most of the Eckerds were directly next door to either a Publix or a Winn-Dixie. I was reading about the history of Eckerd and found that they actually had an agreement to build next to Publix stores from the 1950's into the 1970's. This fits with all of the locations I remember while growing up. Most of those locations went away with Publix remodeling and replacing nearly ALL of their older stores.

But where I live now, the former Eckerd Drugs store in the old Houston Mall (Warner Robins, GA) once had a restaurant. The mall was in decline as a new mall was being built in the mid 1990's and the old Eckerd's restaurant was closed and blocked off, never having another tenant fill that space. That Eckerd remained open 4 years after most of the mall tenants and all anchors moved to the new Galleria at Centerville Georgia in 1995. Two free standing Eckerd's were built around 1999, the first of its kind in this town. They are now out numbered by CVS with 5 stores and Walgreens has two.

Yep, I am going to miss the Eckerd name too.

We also have one very small Rite Aid adjacient to a former Piggly Wiggly that closed in 1998. A Goodwill Emporium now fills the PW space and the Rite Aid hangs on by a thread.

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Post by Daniel » 25 Aug 2006 04:24

Wow. I have another reason to loathe Rite-Aid. They killed off Thrifty and Payless out here on the West Coast, closing down nearly all the stores in favor of dinky little stores with no windows and excessively dark parking lots. My great-grandmother shopped at Eckerd for years, oddly enough the location near her house closed a few months after her death. It was abandoned the last time I was out there, the Winn-Dixie>A&P>Piggly Wiggly next door was a Guitar Center at that time.

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Post by Steve Landry » 25 Aug 2006 09:00

".........had an agreement to build next to Publix stores from the 1950's into the 1970's."


And, did you know that Food Fair was the FIRST supermarket company to have "that" agreement with Eckerd's BEFORE Publix? Food Fair was a master at real estate and shopping center developement. In fact they were so good at it they had several suits filed against them for alleged anti competitive activities.

They dominated shopping center developement and was able to obtain all the best locations. Eckerds wanted to be part of that action and brokered an agreement with Food Fair.

This relationship soured and some say it had to do with Food Fair's purchase of Fredricks, which had pharmacies inside their stores. Others say it was the Friedlands (Food Fair founders) and their arrogance that pissed Jack off. From there Jack went to Publix. That relationship lasted a long time until Publix started their in-store pharmacies.
The Food Fair Empire

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Dave
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Post by Dave » 25 Aug 2006 21:06

We didn't get Eckerds around here until they bought the local Revcos that CVS couldn't buy because of FTC concerns. Never a big player and arrived well past their prime.

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Post by Edric Floyd » 26 Aug 2006 00:01

Steve Landry wrote:".........had an agreement to build next to Publix stores from the 1950's into the 1970's."


And, did you know that Food Fair was the FIRST supermarket company to have "that" agreement with Eckerd's BEFORE Publix? Food Fair was a master at real estate and shopping center developement. In fact they were so good at it they had several suits filed against them for alleged anti competitive activities.

They dominated shopping center developement and was able to obtain all the best locations. Eckerds wanted to be part of that action and brokered an agreement with Food Fair.

This relationship soured and some say it had to do with Food Fair's purchase of Fredricks, which had pharmacies inside their stores. Others say it was the Friedlands (Food Fair founders) and their arrogance that pissed Jack off. From there Jack went to Publix. That relationship lasted a long time until Publix started their in-store pharmacies.

Steve,

I thought when I read about the Publix/Eckerd deal that there had to be more going on as wherever there was a supermarket built in South Florida, you would find an Eckerd next to it.

I can specifically recall two Food Fair/Pantry Pride locations in the Ft. Lauderdale area that had an Eckerds in the same center however both buildings were free standing on opposite ends of the parking lot.

One location was on Commercial Blvd east of Dixie Hwy. That entire shopping center was demolished and a Winn Dixie Marketplace was built there in the early 1990's. And "new" Eckerd store was built in the shopping center along with a Boston Market.

Another was a couple miles east across the intercoastal waterway on a side street off Commercial Blvd (North of Commercial). The Eckerd was built next door to a Food Fair and the buildings were of simular brick design. I'm sure those are long gone. I haven't been over there in years.

I also remember Eckerds taking some former supermarket spaces in the area. Like Andrews Avenue across from Broward General Hospital. I believe that was an original Food Fair but I know it was an Eckerd in the 1980's as It also was a satalite office for the DMV and I once went there to have an address change on my drivers license.

There were some Eckerd Drug stores in South Florida that offered Driver License services (DMV) and Optical services (glasses, contacts) in the 80's

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Post by Edric Floyd » 26 Aug 2006 00:22

rich wrote:Hate to offer sour notes, but they seem deserved.

My experiences with Eckerd in Georgia & Tennessee---easily the worst chain hands down. Non-existent service, poorly stocked crowded stores, etc. A friend from grad school worked in their upper management for a while in the 80s and 90s and thought they were incompetent and treated employees shabbily. The Pennsylvania stores were better run, at least historically. The Atlanta stores tend to be in 2nd rate locations and even the newer, better located ones are devoid of customers. Coutu did okay in the Northeast with Duane Reade, but they must have realized what a mistake they made buying these stores. Rite Aid is making only shaky progress, itself, and seems likely to sink itself with this merger.
I have a totally opposite experience with Eckerd in Florida. But Florida is a completely different world from the rest of the south.

To be fair, I think the whole "chain" drug store/pharmacy market in Georgia was kinda bad well into the 1990's.

When I moved here in 1994 your best options were those in Supermarkets (Kroger), Wal-mart (before the Supercenter explosion) and then brand new Publix. Or rapidly disappearing discount stores like PharMor, Freds, "Drugs 4 Less". (Fred's is growing mainly in small towns) Then the explosion of the free standing stores began with the mergers and buyouts.

We lost names like Big B and Revco and gained a new CVS on every corner with Walgreens closely behind. Then Eckerd was left bringing up the rear and lost great opportunities to build in nicer areas. As for Rite-Aid in this area, they never even tried to compete and the two Rite Aid stores I know of within 50 miles are merely taking up space.

I don't want to sound gloomy but I do see myself someday talking about "former Rite-Aids that were former Eckerd's". Likely sooner than later.

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Post by Steve Landry » 26 Aug 2006 09:25

Yes, Edric............I remember those locations.

Post Food Fair and Publix agreements............Eckerds never seem to master the ability to scout for excellent locations for their stores. In fact one of the major negatives mentioned by retail business experts were the drug chain's poor locations in Florida. Clearly as real estate changed and supermarkets relocated, Eckerds failed to make the correct transitions.

Interesting note that Food Fair was once the king of real estate developement (after all they did discover and develope Palm Beach County) and Eckerds went along for the ride. Food Fair's power was without rival. This power was relinquished to Publix and Eckerds tagged along. Not even Walmart has more clout that Publix in this regard.
The Food Fair Empire

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Post by terryinokc » 28 Aug 2006 00:24

Eckerd got their start in Oklahoma by purchasing Wards Cut Rate Drugs, which was a chain from Texas, I believe.

Their stores were older and smaller for the first few years......but a lot of people shopped there. They got the prescription files from the Treasury Drug stores here in the OKC area (owned by JC Penney) when Penney's closed their drug store division.

Eckerd survived pretty well thru the years, until Walgreens came to Oklahoma. Then, on every corner, it seems, there was a new Walgreens and a new Eckerds. The Walgreens parking lots were always full, and you could always park right in front of Eckerd's---due to the lack of customers. The main complaint by everyone around here was the lack of service at Eckerds, and they NEVER had more than one or two of any item that was in their circulars. People would grudgingly accept rain checks for the sale items, but you'd go in weeks later, and lots of time still not find what you were looking for.

They had really good photo-finishing.....I think that's what kept them sort of busy until the Eckerd break-up.

CVS is maybe a little better, but not much. There are probably 40 Walgreens around Oklahoma City area, and maybe 25 or so CVS stores on opposite corners of the Walgreens. CVS still has problems on keeping stuff in stock, and their selection is not nearly as good as Walgreens.

We've never had Rite Aid here.....we did have Revco for many years.....I think Eckerd's actually ended up with a lot of their prescription files when they closed.

Tulsa hasn't had eny Eckerd stores for many years.....they were all sold in the 1980's due to lack of business----to a local Tulsa based drug chain--Mays Drugs--that seems to be holding it's own against Walgreens and CVS.

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Post by danielh_512 » 31 Aug 2006 22:32

The people this provides no benefit for is the Mid-Atlantic. Eckerd and Rite Aid already operate stores within a 1/2 mile of each other here, so that benefits no one. Both stores are from 1960's shopping centers as Thrift and Drug Fair, respectively.

Eckerd and Rite Aid are eerily similar in that both have been slow to update for decades. Rite Aid in this region still has many stores that maintain 80's interiors and layouts, all while in a size smaller than a conventional drug store of today (this being said w/CVS still building fairly small here).

CVS overran all the chains in the Mid-Atlantic, almost leaving them w/monopolies in far too many areas. With Walgreens just starting to find this area, closing Eckerds due to overlap will give them some potential new locations, if for nothing else, the land they sit on. Eckerd had done a good job developing new locations in the Pittsburgh area, where they are still the dominant drug store, from the days of Thrift (Treasury's JCP relative, the Thrift name being used elsewhere from Pittsburgh).

As for today, Rite Aid is ahead of them in store concept. The new freestanding Rite Aid concept is the best drug store the Mid-Atlantic has to offer. Sadly, by acquiring all these Eckerds (many which provide overlap in the first place), it will take a lot of the necessary capex away from building these new stores that compete well against CVS and Walgreens, which will instead go to removing Eckerd signage.

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Post by krogerclerk » 04 Sep 2006 13:05

It's sad to see Eckerd go, but the chain is not the Eckerd of yesteryear and has a lot of catch up to do. I don't think Rite Aid is going to be an improvement. The closest Rite Aid to Dalton is Calhoun and the parking lot is always empty. It is a free standing new construct that was part of their intention to enter Atlanta in the 90's. A Rite Aid under construction in Cartersville, just south of Calhoun opened as an Eckerd as did most of the others under construction surrounding Atlanta. Eckerd has a long history in the Atlanta-Chattanooga region, having waxed and waned due to the Dunaway Drug acquisition in 1989 and subsequent relocations and closings.

Eckerd is still number in pharmacy market share in the region, CVS having more than twice the stores, but Walgreens is rapidly moving in at number three. Walgreens has the feel of the drugstore of old in a modern setting, something Eckerd could have evolved into as in the past the two were very similar. Perhaps that is the reason Walgreen's ended up overtaking Eckerd in its home turf in Florida. Personally Rite Aid doesn't seem all that different from CVS, just CVS evidently had the advantage of better corporate management when it acquired Revco and Peoples. I've never been in Peoples, but Reed and Lee were there southern banners I presume similar to Peoples, thus not very different from Revco and CVS stores of the same vintage. Eckerd and Walgreens seem to have had a stronger emphasis on photofinishing, cosmetics, and convenience foods.

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Post by Edric Floyd » 14 Sep 2006 00:12

I posted this photo on another thread but since this is the oldest original Eckerd's that I know of, here is the photo.

This store is still in operation in Fitzgerald, GA. Built with a Winn Dixie.

Image

The Winn Dixie moved into a Marketplace store built next door and closed in 2005. A Piggly Wiggly now occupies that location.

Image

Image

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Post by krogerclerk » 14 Sep 2006 18:42

Visited the sole remaining Eckerd in Dalton today. It was the most recent freestanding construct, from 1998 or 99, and is very similar in layout to the Dalton Walgreen's with less convenience food and a larger 1-hr photofinishing department. The store was not at all busy and the only register open was the photocounter. Pricing seemed to be out of line with the competition and I think it was problematic when I last shopped them some years back.

The other three previous Eckerd locations were in South Dalton, this one is in North Dalton. Two locations were original Eckerd builds, Dalton Shopping Center was from the 1960s' and had a lunch counter that was converted to Eckerd Optical before the store closed c.1990. The second Eckerd opened in 1982 in Walnut Crossingand lacked a lunch counter or optical center, Eckerd at this time emphasized convenience foods, cosmetics and OTC and was beginning to push film processing. It also closed c.1990, about one year after Eckerd acquired Marietta-based Dunaway Drugs, a Rexall affiliate. Dunaway was in Bry-Man's Plaza since 1960 or so and relocated to the Bry-Man's Plaza South expansion in 1979.
It had a lunch counter which Eckerd continued to operate until roughly 1996.

Independent pharmacies are still doing the lion's share of the prescription business in Dalton, with at least 6 independents surviving against CVS(2), Walgreens(1), Eckerd(1), Wal-Mart(2), KMart(2), Kroger(2),and BiLo(1 Rx out of 2 stores). None of the area Fred's operated pharmacies, though 2 were constructed since 2004.

The Brooks/Eckerd private label is just making an appearance as many of the private labels are still Eckerd brand. So it looks like the Brooks/Eckerd label may not be found before they becom Rite Aid.

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Post by TW-Upstate NY » 23 Sep 2006 15:11

Here's something that occurred to me when this merger was announced and I wonder what's going to happen. Gloversville, NY is a smaller city near where I live and in the late '90's both Rite-Aid and Eckerd built brand new stores right across the street from each other which still operate to this day. The Rite-Aid opened around '97 or so and was probably one of the last store designs before the current prototype and replaced a store a few blocks away located in a former colonial A+P. That location was a replacement for their then current store as well. The Eckerd was built two years later and replaced two smaller Eckerd stores in town one of which was originally a Fay's Drugs and also a Carl's Drugs which was rebranded Fay's after the merger of those two regional chains. Since all the stores are going to be re-branded Rite-Aid, I have to wonder which store will go dark. This is not the only place in my area where Rite-Aid and Eckerd are in very close proximity to each other as the same situation exists in Johnstown, the next city over. CVS operates a smaller and older store in the downtown area there and it wouldn't surprise me if they took over one of the locations. Interesting thing about that CVS too-the only one I know of that is closed on Sunday. I've got to wonder though if Walgreen's may make a play for some of these stores where a similar situation exists as they have just recently or are just about to re-enter the Albany, NY market after about a 40 year absence.

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