Rite Aid must not have the rite stuff. One of the nation’s largest drug (convenience) store chains, Rite Aid has increasingly run into the wrong kind of community response to its aggressive construction campaign. Latest case in point: The Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. On July 27th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors skunked Rite Aid 11-0, rejecting the company’s plans to put a 6,500 s.f. store at the corner of 9th. Avenue and Lincoln Way. According to the S.F. Chronicle, Rite Aid has 6 stores in San Francisco already, and wanted to up the number to 20. But Rite Aid’s sun went down in Inner Sunset, as opponents gathered more than 3,000 signatures against the company, saying that the project would destroy the sense of community in their neighborhood. One Supervisor said that Rite Aid would jeopardize the variety of retail shops in the area. A Rite Aid spokesman, Darolyn Davis, who was identified as “a community outreach consultant” actually said the following: “America is supposed to be free enterprise. It really should be up to whether people shop in your stores or not. Not by the voice of a few.” Somebody get that man a zoning ordinance and a copy of California statues. Cities and towns have the power to regulate land use, even in a “free” market. The Rite Aid spokesman made a veiled threat to the city: “If you discourage business from opening stores, they are less likely to go through this process in other areas.” It turns out that Rite Aid is also fighting off neighbors at another S.F. location at Powell Street and Columbus Avenue. One Ninth Avenue resident summed it up this way:”By an overwhelming margin, the residents of this community find a facility such as Rite Aid inappropriate for this particular location.” Another Rite Aid, Wrong Town story. By the way, as of March, 1997, Rite Aid only had 681 drug stores in California.
Write to Rite Aid CEO Martin Grass at: Rite Aid, Box 3165, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3165. Tell him that one of his “community outreach consultants” doesn’t understand how communities work, or what zoning is.