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Rite Aid sells 12 stores to Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday afternoon announced that is has signed an agreement to sell seven Rite Aid locations in downtown San Francisco and five Rite Aid locations in eastern Idaho to Walgreens.

“Our strategy is to focus our operations where we can best leverage the Rite Aid brand and operate most efficiently,” stated Chris Hall, Rite Aid SVP of strategic business development.  “With only seven stores in all of the city of San Francisco we didn’t have the critical mass to be successful there, and our stores in eastern Idaho are just too widespread and too distant from other Rite Aid locations to operate efficiently.  This is a good transaction for Rite Aid.”

The transition to Walgreens is expected to be completed by the end of March, 2009. 

Rite Aid will continue to operate 605 stores throughout California, the chain stated, including 42 stores in the Bay Area. Of the 31 states where Rite Aid operates, California has the second largest number of Rite Aid stores after New York. 

The five eastern Idaho stores included in the transaction are located in Pocatello, Blackfoot, Twin Falls, Burley and Idaho Falls. Rite Aid continues to operate 14 stores in western Idaho, which borders Washington and Oregon where Rite Aid operates more than 200 stores and a distribution center.

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Elephant out of business because of economy; lack of financing

BY Michael Johnsen

BERKELEY, Calif. The challenging economy claimed its latest retail victim Tuesday, as Elephant Pharm shuttered its three locations for good after filing for liquidation under chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

The chain’s three locations had been open on Monday.

“The company has been burdened with obligations that were quite difficult for a company of our size to carry,” Elephant Pharm CEO Kathi Lentzsch stated. “The current management team and board of directors worked diligently to grow the company to a size that could bear these obligations, but due to the current economic conditions and the tightening of the credit market, it has not been possible to raise the capital required to continue the business.” 

That suggests the Elephant business may have failed more because of its lack of heft — Elephant fielded the buying leverage of only three locations to fill store shelves in a full-size 12,000-square-foot-plus footprint — than because of its pharmacy business vision as a pharmacy that dispensed both traditional allopathic medicines and Ayurvedic herbs.

Pharmaca, based in Boulder, Colo., fields a similar business model, albeit in a much smaller retail box. Averaging 5,000-square-feet per location, the 23-store chain has secured some $20 million in financing this past spring and has more than doubled in size in the past year.

Executives at Elephant Pharm had been trying to secure additional financing in an exceedingly financing-poor market for the past year. The chain closed its Los Altos, Calif., location, which had been its fourth store, this past September. “In spite of these efforts, the company was ultimately unable to meet its mounting obligations and regretfully had no choice but to close its stores,” the company stated.

 “We are extremely proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish in the 6 years since we opened. We would like to thank our vendors and our very loyal customers for their support over the years.” Lentzsch said. “Elephant has been both a leader in its industry as well as a reflection of a greater societal movement for healthy change.”

Elephant Pharm employed 190 people across its three stores and at the home office.

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Febreze launches Destinations Collection

BY Drug Store News Team

CINCINNATI Febreze has launched its new Destinations Collection, offering fragrances in three scents: Hawaiian Aloha, Brazilian Carnaval and Moroccan Bazaar.

The new collection was inspired in part by the growing “staycation” trend.

“During these uncertain economic times, consumers are becoming more creative in providing escapes for themselves and their families without breaking the bank,” stated Scott Beal, Febreze brand manager. “The Febreze Destinations Collection offers boutique scents from around the world that create a temporary getaway through an authentic scent experience.”

The launch will be supported by an online “From Staycation to Vacation” sweepstakes on www.febreze.com/destinations that will run from Feb. 2 to July 5, 2009.  One grand-prize winner will receive a trip for four to Hawaii, Morocco or Brazil. Ten first-prize winners will receive $1,000 toward a home decor makeover and more than 1,500 consumers will win a coupon redeemable for any Febreze product.   

The Febreze Destination Collection is available nationally at food, drug and mass retailers with prices ranging from $2.99 to $7.99.

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