April 25, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
The Rite Aid store on Austin Street will close next week — adding to the growing list of locations the company is shuttering across Queens and the nation.
The 71-14 Austin St. Rite Aid will shut down on May 2 as part of a corporate restructuring plan where nearly 150 stores across the country are slated to close, according to a company spokesperson.
Employees at the Austin Street store were notified about the impending closure Tuesday, leaving many of them stunned and angry.
“It’s very messed up, we are really upset,” said one employee, a Forest Hills resident who has been a pharmacy technician at the store for 7 years.
The worker said the company did not provide them with sufficient notice about the closure.
“We feel scammed, no one told us before last week,” the employee, who didn’t want to disclose her name, said.
The worker said that around 20 employees work at the store and belong to a union. She said that their union membership has proven worthless in terms of saving their jobs.
“It was basically a waste to be part of the union because they don’t really help and are not sticking by us.”
Rite Aid, she said, is not providing suitable job alternatives for the workers at the store.
The company, however, said in a statement that it is in the process of trying to secure alternative employment for its employees.
A corporate spokesperson for Rite Aid did not specify why the Forest Hills store was selected to close but did note that the closures are based on a number of reasons.
“A decision to close a store is one we take very seriously and is based on a variety of factors including business strategy, lease and rent considerations, local business conditions and viability, and store performance,” the company said in a statement.
The company said it had taken measures to ensure customers will receive their prescriptions.
“We review every neighborhood to ensure our customers will have access to health services, be it at Rite Aid or a nearby pharmacy, and we work to seamlessly transfer their prescriptions so there is no disruption of services,” the company said in a statement.
The Austin Street store serves a large number of residents, with the 10,000 square foot store also including a separate entrance on 71st Avenue next to the LIRR station. The location is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The closest Rite Aid to the Forest Hills store is more than a mile away at 95-14 63rd Dr.
It is unclear what will become of the Forest Hills store. No building permits have been filed with the city.
The Austin Street store is the latest in a wave of Rite Aid closures throughout the borough.
The Rite Aid on Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside, for instance, is shuttering today while two Rite Aids in Astoria have recently closed – a store at 32-14 31st St. and at 32-87 Steinway St.
Rite Aid is not the only pharmacy chain closing locations in Queens.
On Feb.15, Walgreens closed its 47-07 Broadway store in Astoria and its Bayside location at 39-20 Bell Blvd.