One of Santa Barbara’s downtown legacy stores has closed, seemingly overnight.
Rite Aid at 825 State St. has closed its doors, leaving another big, vacant store downtown. It’s also next to Sur La Table, which closed its doors last year.
A peek through the door windows revealed skeleton shelves and no sign of activity.
“Like all retail businesses, we regularly review each of our locations to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers, communities and overall business,” said Terri Hickey, director of public relations for Rite Aid. “A decision to close a store is one we take very seriously, and those decisions are based on a variety of factors that retail businesses consider such as overarching business strategy, lease and rent considerations, local business conditions and viability, and store performance.”
Hickey said employees were offered jobs at other locations.
“We review every neighborhood to assure our customers will have access to health services, be it at Rite Aid or a nearby pharmacy,” Hickey said. “We offered our associates at this location job opportunities at nearby Rite Aid locations, and customers’ prescriptions were seamlessly transferred to a nearby pharmacy. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities and expanding in new ways to new markets to become a pharmacy that serves customers nationally.”
Hickey said that Rite Aid announced it was closing 63 of its stores, or 2% of its locations, in the third quarter of 2021.
More than just a downtown store, Rite Aid was a place for people to obtain prescription drugs, send money via Western Union, and purchase a variety of snacks and household items. It was a destination for homeless individuals to gather and buy their supplies.
In the 1980s, it was known as Thrifty, and was a place for kids and families to get a scoop of ice cream, a tradition that was carried on by Rite Aid.
The closure marks the departure of another big retailer on State Street, and another blow to the city’s ongoing effort to restore and revitalize downtown. With more than a dozen vacant storefronts in downtown Santa Barbara, the Rite Aid closure signals that much work is still needed.
The building is owned by a family from the Manhattan Beach area, and sources told Noozhawk that the departure didn’t have to do with a lease increase, but instead with Rite Aid deciding to abandon that location. Nearby, a couple of blocks away, there is a CVS for people to have their prescriptions filled.
“We are sorry to see longtime tenant Rite Aid go, though we look forward to the building being renovated and bringing in a new tenant to join the reimagined State Street,” said Robin Elander, executive director of the Downtown Association. “Another pharmacy is only a few blocks away, so customers still have options.”