Amidst growing theft concerns in recent years, East Side Feed can confirm the Rite Aid located at 1849 Second Avenue (and 96th Street) has closed up shop for good, marking the end of the longtime drugstore chain’s presence on the Upper East Side.
After a week of deeply discounted clearance sales, Upper East Siders who stopped by the branch this past weekend found the gates down, shelves empty and no employees working. We called the former Rite Aid’s listed phone number and were greeted with an automated response, stating, “The pharmacy has closed, but rest assured, your prescriptions have been confidentially transferred and can now be refilled at the CVS Pharmacy at 1500 Lexington Avenue or any convenient CVS Pharmacy location.”
Earlier this year, as the final Rite Aid on the Upper West Side shut its doors due to the aforementioned shoplifting, sky-high rents and an increasingly competitive market, a team member stated that all other outposts were likely to follow suit. According to Rite Aid’s official website, there are five locations still standing in Manhattan.
In January 2022, actor Michael Rapaport made headlines after capturing an alleged robbery at Rite Aid’s former 80th Street and Second Avenue location on film. “Back at my Rite Aid and there’s nothing to steal because this Rite Aid, like so many other Rite Aids, is closing down because everybody stole everything. And the workers here don’t know if they’re getting jobs. Congratulations losers,” he remarked. The 1535 Second Avenue shop closed weeks later.
The dramatic wave of pharmacy thefts hasn’t let up since the COVID-19 pandemic first ravaged the world in March 2020. New Yorkers have all noticed the uptick in locked-up products, plastic barriers and other anti-shoplifting measures — ultimately making traditional shopping more difficult for the average consumer.
A devastated customer of the 1849 Second Avenue shop took to Yelp to remember the value Rite Aid provided the neighborhood: “They were there for me during the pandemic. The first place I went after being indoors for SEVEN weeks with shingles was my Rite Aid! Rain, snow or whatever the weather, they unloaded trucks of merchandise keeping the store stocked. I’m giving them Five Stars for the kind employees and valuable service that I have known for years.”