Original Bartell store closes after 39 years of business
After a two-week whirlwind of discounts and disappointed customers, the last vestige of Bartell Drugs in downtown Seattle, Store #1, bid farewell on Thursday evening. This iconic 39-year-old location at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Olive Street marked the latest in a series of store closures, a consequence of Rite Aid’s frenzied efforts to streamline its retail footprint in the wake of its bankruptcy last year.
Of the 67 Bartell stores operating when Rite Aid acquired Bartell in 2020, 21 have since been shuttered, a notable number of which were situated in downtown Seattle, once Bartell’s most lucrative market.
Surprisingly, until the recent announcement, Store #1’s staff remained optimistic, given its status as the lone survivor in downtown. But with the nearest Bartell now residing in Queen Anne, approximately 2.5 miles away, the writing was on the wall.
Store #1, which opened its doors in 1984, had consistently been one of Bartell’s top performers, according to both staff and vendors. Strategically located on a bustling intersection, it thrived amidst the revitalizing downtown scene.
However, in March 2019, company officials revealed Bartell’s decision to halt further downtown expansion, citing rampant theft and the associated security costs. This decision was underscored months later when Bartell Drugs closed its Third and Union store, a move attributed to over $1 million in theft-related expenses in that year alone. Based on this, it looks like more closures may be on their way.