By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
One of Gary’s Walgreens joins the 200 stores around the country that will close as part of a three-year effort to cut costs and save $1.5 billion. The Walgreens, located at 2801 West 5th Avenue is scheduled to close August 24 due to underperforming.
While Walgreens officials say the store has underperformed, some residents in Gary strongly disagree.
Phil Caruso, a spokesman for Walgreens said that the Walgreens located on the corner of Wabash & 5th Avenue in Gary has operated for the past 7 years. He said, “The decision to close stores was not easy. A year ago Walgreens announced the plan to close about 200 underperforming stores around the country. We are not focusing on any particular area or any one city. This has been occurring over a period of time and unfortunately this store in Gary is one of the underperforming stores and we made the decision to close it.”
Caruso said all of the prescription files from the closing store will be automatically transferred to the 25th & Grant Street 24-hour Walgreens or to the 801South Lake Street store. The last day of business will be Wednesday, August 24. Caruso said the stores will not have a going-out-of business sale, but there will be some merchandise marked down due to the closing.
There are approximately 15 to 20 employees that will be affected by the closing. Caruso said they will be given the option to be transferred to other Walgreen locations. Caruso said, “As we go through this process we have been able to place our employees at other Walgreen locations in Gary or at other nearby locations.”
Although the building will be closing, management has not made any exact plans as of yet what will happen to it. The store has been in that location since 2009. Caruso said he was not aware of any other stores in Gary or the Northwest Indiana area that are scheduled to close. He said, “This process has been on going and will continue over time.”
Michael Protho, the Second District Councilman where the Walgreens is located, said he has talked to the employees who were told it was a corporate decision to close the store. Councilman Protho said he did not believe the store’s reasoning for closing was due to declining sales. He said, “I think it is unfair. In 1967, when Mayor Richard G. Hatcher was elected, they turned their backs on this community. In addition, I heard that they did not own the building, that someone else was building it and they were leasing it.