Ortonville Rite Aid closure looms as bankruptcy shutters area stores

By David Fleet
Groveland Twp. — The Ortonville Rite Aid remains open for now.
Despite depleted stock, the local store has not posted any date of a possible closing as of July 3 as Rite Aid last month announced it was closing 12 more stores in Michigan in addition to the 19 stores last year. The latest announced store closures are two stores in Burton, along with stores in Flint, Marlette, Bay City, Allen Park, Milford, Wyandotte, Livonia, Ludington, Spring Lake and Grosse Pointe Farms.
Rite Aid has been in the Ortonville community for decades.
In 2005, officials for Macomb County based Aarmax Corporation confirmed the ground-breaking for a new Rite Aid building at 10 S. Ortonville Road. The new store replaced the Rite Aid then at 22 N. Ortonville where the Dollar Tree is today. The new design, was one of only five nationwide to include G&C vitamins, drive through pharmacy, and a then new 1 hour photo machine.
Rite Aid filed for bankruptcy in October 2023, citing underperforming stores. It struggled over recent years amid opioid lawsuits. In 2022, it settled for up to $30 million after its pharmacies were accused of contributing to an oversupply of prescription opioids.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice filed suit against the company in March 2023, claiming that it knowingly processed “unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.” That stands in violation of the False Claims Act and Controlled Substances Act. The government accused Rite Aid of missing “obvious red flags” when it filled the prescriptions for addictive painkillers.
As local Rite Aid stores are closed, area customers are seeking other suppliers.
Mike Attar owner of Discount Pharmacy, 4 North Ortonville Road, said business has picked up in the last year.
“I would love to have more people in my pharmacy and keep it local,” said Attar, who first opened a store in the Bueche’s Plaza in 2016 and moved to the current store in 2020. “I welcome all those people coming in. I’m a small time pharmacy here in Ortonville some people didn’t know I even existed. I’ve been here eight years. I know every single customer by name. Whatever I can do, I’m more than happy to.”
Attar commented on the big pharmacies.
“There’s too many chefs in the kitchen,” he said. “Everybody sits behind a desk and decides what to do and not to do. They’re not here between people to see what they need. There’s no personal touch.”
Rite Aid announced it will close its distribution center in Waterford Township in mid-August, resulting in 191 layoffs.
The financial implosion of the company continues to ripple through smaller, rural communities — including Lapeer County.
The company faces more than $3.3 billion in debt, and over a thousand federal lawsuits over its alleged role in the opioid epidemic. The Philadelphia-based company, and other pharmacy chains, have also struggled in the face of competition from Amazon and big-box chains like Walmart and Target.
Jeff Hogan, Editor of The County Press in Lapeer contributed.

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