Rite Aid in Van Buren closing doors as prescriptions move to Hebert Rexall Pharmacy

6 years ago

VAN BUREN, Maine — The Rite Aid location in Van Buren is closing its pharmacy on May 21 with all of its prescriptions transferring over to Hebert Rexall Pharmacy up the street.

Weeks after Walgreens acquired nearly 2,000 Rite Aid Pharmacies, including seven in Aroostook County, the company decided to close its 21 Main Street location in Van Buren without switching the brand over to Walgreens. Other Rite Aids in The County that are transitioning to Walgreens are in Fort Kent, Fort Fairfield, Madawaska, Caribou, Houlton and Presque Isle.

In January, the director of external communications for Walgreens, Jim Cohn, told the Fiddlehead Focus that the transition from the Rite Aid brand to the Walgreens brand would be a smooth one. He also said that “current Rite Aid employees will be offered the opportunity to maintain their jobs under the new Walgreens’ ownership.”

John Hebert, owner of Hebert Rexall Pharmacy at 74 Main Street, has acted as a refuge for local Rite Aid employees who are not going to be able to accept posts with Walgreens because of the distance of remaining stores and a shortage of opportunities.

“Two [Rite Aid] employees approached us after the announcement and both have been offered positions,” Hebert said Thursday. “We have had a third, highly capable, [Rite Aid] employee express interest recently, and we are hopeful that he can be transitioned in as well.”

Hebert did say, however, that his pharmacy is not actively seeking these soon-to-be former employees.

“It has been our understanding that they are still currently employed by Walgreens and being offered opportunities at other locations,” he said.

Current Rite Aid employees in Van Buren declined to speak about that store’s closing. Multiple attempts to obtain comment from the Walgreens company were unsuccessful.

Rite Aid will continue transitioning all prescriptions over to Hebert Rexall Pharmacy and plans to close the pharmacy part of the store on May 21, according to Hebert, who added that the timing of the transfer could not have come at a better time.

“Due to an increase in nursing home and assisted living prescriptions we had already made arrangements to expand our prescription department,” Hebert said. “We’ll be in a good position to handle any increases in prescriptions.”

He said that former Rite Aid customers were in no way obligated to stay with his pharmacy. However, Hebert added, “our team is hopeful  that people can place their trust in us and we are given an opportunity to exhibit the same level of service our current customers have come to appreciate.”

Hebert does not expect an increase in prescription pricing and said that his low prices were what originally allowed him to compete with larger chains.

“We are open and honest and do everything within our means to ensure that our patients can afford their medications,” Hebert said.

On May 21, the local Rite Aid will shut down the pharmacy for good and close the retail portion of the store for two days. During those two days, employees will pack up and ship all products that can be useful in other Walgreens stores. The store will then reopen and liquidate all Rite Aid brand products that will not be of use to Walgreens, before officially closing the store for good.

Hebert Rexall can be reached at 207-868-2242.

Follow Morgan Mitchell on Twitter @TheMaineMorgan