At long last, we've arrived at the final post of The Mid-South Retail Blog's long-running Rite Aid series! We began by exploring all of the remaining Memphis-area Rite Aid stores at the time of their closures in 2018. There were ten such stores -- five of which we toured -- and none of them converted to Walgreens.
To the contrary, since that time we've been focusing exclusively on Mississippi Rite Aid stores that did make the Walgreens conversion. There were nine of these stores. In April we saw the very vintage store in Columbus, MS, while in August we saw a much more conventional location in nearby Aberdeen.
Today, I'm going to share with you a table that lists out details on all nine of those stores; some brief photo and video glimpses of all of them; and finally, a very quick tour around one location specifically. Let's get started!
|Courtesy Matt-Southeast Michigan Retail|
|Courtesy Matt-Southeast Michigan Retail|
The maps above provide some important background information. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the whole Rite Aid/Walgreens failed merger story by now, so I'll spare you any rehashing of the details. But the maps do a good job of summarizing exactly how many states Rite Aid departed as a result of their subsequent sellout of many locations to Walgreens. All of the states in red are those that Rite Aid exited entirely -- notice Mississippi and Tennessee are included -- and only the states in blue are those where Rite Aid remains. In the second map, the shaded blue states indicate that while Rite Aid continues to operate some stores, they also sold others to Walgreens. All in all, this leaves them with a very noticeably smaller footprint, but at least the chain is still hanging around nonetheless. As a matter of fact, Rite Aid this year even debuted a brand new image for itself, including a revamp of its longtime "shield" logo as well as a revolutionary new interior design. You can check that out here, and thanks to Matt, the proprietor of the Southeast Michigan Retail blog, for creating those maps.
As I mentioned, Mississippi was one of the states that Rite Aid exited entirely in 2018. Of all of their locations in the state, Walgreens only took over nine in total. Furthermore, since that time, an additional two have closed under Walgreens' ownership, leaving only seven former Rite Aids surviving as Walgreens in Mississippi from the 2018 sale. A table of all nine of these stores, including the closed ones, is provided below. In reference to the "Status" and "Décor" columns, please note the following:
- Full Remodel means that the store received new signs and interior/exterior paint, but the bones of the old Rite Aid décor remain (no Walgreens remodel was so thorough as to remove all traces of Rite Aid).
- Minimal Décor Swap means that only new signs were added, not any interior/exterior paint.
- Zero Work At All means that only a new pharmacy sign was added to the interior. The rest of the interior remains untouched.
- RA1 is the name for Rite Aid's 1990s pastel colors décor package, as seen here.
- Customer World is the name for Rite Aid's 2000s décor package. We have not seen this package on the blog before, but an example can be seen here.
- Wellbeing is the name for Rite Aid's 2010s wood tone décor package, as seen here. I have commonly referred to this package as "Wellness" in the past, but "Wellbeing" is the official name.
|Rite Aid Store #||Address||City, State||Store Build Style||Previous Rite Aid Décor||Current Walgreens Status|
|7141||201-B Alabama St||Columbus, MS||non-freestanding||N/A (Revco 1980s décor)||zero work at all|
|7142||200 Hwy 145 N||Aberdeen, MS||90s diamond window||RA1||minimal décor swap|
|7212||1220 Jerry Clower Blvd||Yazoo City, MS||non-freestanding||Wellbeing||full remodel; closed Nov. 2020|
|7223||11279 Hwy 49||Gulfport, MS||90s diamond window||Wellbeing||full remodel|
|7226||4031 Popps Ferry Rd, Ste A||D'Iberville, MS||non-freestanding||Customer World||zero work at all; closed Nov. 2020|
|7228||3082 Bienville Blvd||Ocean Springs, MS||90s diamond window||Wellbeing||full remodel|
|7231||1703 Delaware Ave||McComb, MS||90s diamond window||RA1||full remodel|
|7400||2310 Clay St||Vicksburg, MS||90s diamond window||Wellbeing||full remodel|
|7405||380 Woodrow Wilson Ave||Jackson, MS||90s diamond window||Wellbeing||full remodel|
Unlike a lot of other retail, it is notoriously difficult to learn much about drugstore interiors from simple online searches, but you'll notice that I've been able to fill in the table above in full. Thankfully, my sleuthing turned up a bit more than normal in regards to these stores, but I owe a majority of the details to the discovery of the video embedded below. This video, sourced from a construction company, documents a number of the Rite Aid-to-Walgreens conversions in Mississippi, with plenty of both exterior and interior views for the locations covered. I also find the title of the video amusing -- "Project DeLorean," quite possibly a play on how many of these old Rite Aid buildings represented a trip back in time for Walgreens. Take a look at that video below, and then keep reading for some more details and images from these nine former Mississippi Rite Aid stores.
Rite Aid Store #7141
201-B Alabama St.
As noted earlier, we already toured this store back in April. Amazingly, it still has the décor of its original tenant -- Revco, dating back to the early 1980s -- totally intact! Please check out this blog post for more.
Rite Aid Store #7142
200 Hwy 145 N
As noted earlier, we already toured this store back in August. Compared to the other stores (aside from Columbus and D'Iberville), this one seemed to get slightly less work done by Walgreens. For instance, only new interior department signs were installed; the original 1990s Rite Aid paint job on both the interior and exterior of the store remain unaltered. Compare this store to the McComb location, which closed with the same décor package (RA1) but did receive new paint jobs. Please check out this blog post for more.
Rite Aid Store #7212
1220 Jerry Clower Blvd.
Yazoo City, MS
This location is included in the video walkthrough, so if you'd like to see some additional footage of it, please refer back to 2:34 in the video above. As noted in my table, this store closed with the Wellbeing décor package and received a full remodel to the newest Walgreens décor, meaning Walgreens painted over all of Rite Aid's wood tones and put up their own department signage. Unfortunately, this store closed alongside 26 others nationwide on November 9, 2020. Yazoo City does have other chain and local pharmacy options available, but not another Walgreens.
Rite Aid Store #7223
11279 Hwy 49
|Courtesy Google Maps|
|Courtesy Google Maps|
|Courtesy Google Maps|
|Courtesy Google Maps|
|Courtesy Google Maps|
This location is included in the video walkthrough, so if you'd like to see some additional footage of it, please refer back to 6:04 in the video above. As noted in my table, this store closed with the Wellbeing décor package and received a full remodel to the newest Walgreens décor, meaning Walgreens painted over all of Rite Aid's wood tones and put up their own department signage. The images above are courtesy of Google Maps user contributions.
Rite Aid Store #7226
4031 Popps Ferry Rd., Ste. A
This location is included in the video walkthrough, so if you'd like to see some additional footage of it, please refer back to 10:48 in the video above. As noted in my table, this store closed with the Customer World décor package and was never renovated by Walgreens. Unfortunately, this store closed alongside 26 others nationwide on November 9, 2020. D'Iberville does have other chain and local pharmacy options available, including another Walgreens. The images above are courtesy of an Imgur album and show the store as it was being converted.
Rite Aid Store #7228
3082 Bienville Rd.
Ocean Springs, MS
As noted in my table, this store closed with the Wellbeing décor package and received a full remodel to the newest Walgreens décor, meaning Walgreens painted over all of Rite Aid's wood tones and put up their own department signage. The images above are courtesy of an Imgur album and show the store as it was being converted. Notice the temporary Rite Aid banner hiding the newly-installed Walgreens logo until the reopening could take place.
Rite Aid Store #7231
1703 Delaware Ave.
This location is included in the video walkthrough, so if you'd like to see some additional footage of it, please refer back to 0:01 in the video above. As noted in my table, this store closed with the RA1 décor package and received a full remodel to the newest Walgreens décor, meaning Walgreens removed all of Rite Aid's pastel colors and put up their own department signage. Be sure to compare the renovation work done at this store to the Aberdeen location, which received less work. The images above are mine; we drove past the store on our visit to McComb (I shared the McComb Fred's with y'all earlier this month) in August 2019, but did not have time to go inside.
Rite Aid Store #7405
380 Woodrow Wilson Ave.
As noted in my table, this store closed with the Wellbeing décor package and received a full remodel to the newest Walgreens décor, meaning Walgreens painted over all of Rite Aid's wood tones and put up their own department signage. Unfortunately I cannot remember where I obtained the first two images above, but nevertheless they clearly show the store before and then during its conversion to Walgreens (note the "open during construction" sign in the window). LoopNet, a likely source for the images, notes that Rite Aid's Wellness renovations were done only in 2017, mere months before the store would be sold to Walgreens. This PDF provides some additional details concerning that work.
Rite Aid Store #7400
2310 Clay St.
Last but not least, we find ourselves at the Vicksburg Rite Aid-turned-Walgreens. This store, as you likely gleaned from the title, is the main subject of today's post. As noted in my table, it closed with the Wellbeing décor package and received a full remodel to the newest Walgreens décor, meaning Walgreens painted over all of Rite Aid's wood tones and put up their own department signage. This PDF provides some additional exterior images of the store, but we'll go ahead and jump into my own images below.
A majority of the Mississippi Rite Aid stores -- not only those taken over by Walgreens, but likely in general as well -- were 1990s builds, with the big awnings and the diamond windows. The style of road sign you see above corresponds with that design, and over at Aberdeen we already saw how Walgreens retrofits these signs: with the "speech bubble W" logo. However, at Aberdeen that logo swap was the only change; here in Vicksburg (and, indeed, at all the other MS locations with this style of signage), the sign got a fresh white paint job in addition.
A look at the building itself shows that the sign was not alone in its white paint job. Once again, unlike Aberdeen, the Vicksburg Rite Aid-turned-Walgreens received a bright new exterior paint color, with just a tiny amount of red accents for that pop. This is also identical to the stores in McComb, Jackson, and Gulfport; based on the images shared earlier, it looks like Ocean Springs may have had some brown paint in addition to the white.
While keeping the existing sign frames, Walgreens did replace the sign faces of the "Drive-Thru Pharmacy" hexagons on either side of the building. If you refer back to my McComb images, you'll see similar sign replacements, except in white at that location as opposed to the black seen here. Personally, I prefer the black. (And again, as you might have guessed, Walgreens did not replace these signs at Aberdeen...)
EDIT: Or perhaps these signs are actually from Rite Aid after all! See the comments below this post for more details.
Oh, and while I'm here, something else I forgot to mention in this post that I meant to share earlier: it surprised me, in researching all of these stores, to see so many of the Mississippi Rite Aid locations had been updated to the Wellbeing prototype, while the DeSoto County stores kept their very dated RA1 look until the very end. I would have expected the big Memphis metro area to get updates sooner than random towns throughout Mississippi, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the opposite was actually true!
A couple more looks at the newly Walgreens-ized façade before we head in. I visited this store in late June 2020.
I've been referencing the Aberdeen and McComb stores a lot, mostly for comparison purposes, and thus far Vicksburg has been able to provide much the same comparisons. But as we head inside, the similarities end: Aberdeen and McComb both closed with Rite Aid's 90s RA1 décor, but Vicksburg (and all the other diamond window stores) closed with Wellbeing. Obviously, these locations would have opened with RA1, but later on in life they received this remodel, which brought about a number of changes. One very noticeable one in the image above is the reskinning and reorientation of the actionway that leads from the entrance straight back to the pharmacy counter. Overall, the store is left with a much straighter, easier to navigate feel.
Cosmetics, as usual, was the first department past the entrance. Walgreens did not move any departments around, but did shuffle and reset the shelves, I'm sure.
Another glance toward the pharmacy, followed by a look into the food and drinks department along the left-side wall. This department would have undergone major renovation during the Wellbeing remodel, as RA1 would have had the large hut-looking cooler/freezer piece in place. As we've seen from earlier in this post (re: Aberdeen and McComb), Walgreens did not remove that feature at stores it took over that still had it intact; it's surely an expensive piece to remove. The store looks a lot classier without it, though.
With Wellbeing, a much more stately design was left in RA1's stead. It's also worth noting that, upon their acquisition of the stores, Walgreens did a bit more to these Wellbeing stores than the RA1 ones. In RA1, the walls were already blank anyway; all Walgreens had to do was cover up the blue stripe that outlined all the diamond windows. On the other hand, with Wellbeing, the walls featured very large strips of wood paneling. Instead of keeping those intact, Walgreens opted to paint them white, probably to make the store feel brighter inside. The rest of the surfaces received a more neutral gray color. You can clearly tell where those elements would have been here in Vicksburg in the images above.
The health and wellness department is located in the back left corner of the store, with the pharmacy immediately next to it in the back right. Again, the Wellbeing renovations left this store with a much more defined flow to it -- I always had trouble identifying corners in the unchanged 90s-era Rite Aids around Memphis!
One last look at the pharmacy from within some of the aisles out in front of it. You'll notice that it was closed at the time of my visit. As a matter of fact, once we got here, we noticed only one party inside, and they were leaving as we walked in. Afraid the store was closing, we checked the hours on the door and found that they did indeed show 6PM as closing time. Frantic, we made a quick dash around the store for my pictures, and all but yelled at each other to pick up something to buy from the food department. We were in and out within five minutes. As it happens, though, we needn't have worried. We apologized to the cashier for entering right as the store closed, only for her to tell us that it was only the pharmacy counter that closes at 6. The store itself would be open for several hours yet!
That story probably helps explain why I don't have a whole lot of pictures from here, but I still think I got the place pretty well documented, if I do say so myself. Above, you'll find two additional views up the actionway back towards the front of the store and the checkouts. While the actionway itself was replaced with a very striking, solid wood-look pattern, the rest of the store retained its original speckled tile design from RA1, with the alternating-shade blue tiles simply swapped out for alternating-shade brown ones. Again, Rite Aid was the one to do all of this work; Walgreens altered nothing in regards to the flooring (although you can tell from the large empty area to one side of the actionway that they did significantly alter the layout).
The cards and gift wrap department is located in the front left corner of the store, with the photo lab adjacent to it along the front end. If you look closely at the poster in the window of that office, you'll see that Walgreens did renumber the stores they took over; this store, formerly Rite Aid #7400, is now Walgreens #17030. Note also the social distancing decals affixed to the floor. Their pale blue color is almost uncannily similar to the RA1 floor tile that would have originally been here! (Refer to the link in the previous paragraph.)
The photo lab is one area where Walgreens put in more extensive effort, presumably getting rid of Rite Aid's entire setup in favor of adding in their own. Granted, the Wellbeing-era photo lab would have been a step up from the very-outdated RA1-era photo lab, but Walgreens still evidently had adjustments to make. While not from this store, similar work can be seen in detail in the video shared earlier in this post. Note also how the department sign is unlike any of the others seen throughout the store.
Finally, here's a look toward the registers and exit, once again clad in their new Walgreens signage and paint job (note the pop of red above the vestibule). Unlike the only other Wellbeing décor store I've visited -- Union Avenue in Memphis -- Vicksburg's Wellbeing renovation did not result in any new checkouts being added to the store. As a result, the original zig-zag RA1 design survived through that renovation, and continues to live on today under Walgreens' ownership, too (and with big "W" stickers on each lane to remind you of that fact, to boot!).
We entered along the store's front wall; here, we're looking at its right side for a change. The diamond windows, while still present, were completely covered up by Rite Aid during the Wellbeing remodel, rendering them all but useless now. Note also the row of white and blue panels in the square windows beneath the main façade piece: those are Walgreens' response to Rite Aid's similar, green Wellness posters. (See the Jackson store for an example.)
Back in the front of the store, here's a drawn-back look at the building. I had to brighten a lot of my exterior photos from here due to interference from sun glare, but hopefully they aren't too bad. This store sits at the corner of Clay Street and Mission 66, and while they did already have one store in Vicksburg, Walgreens likely acquired this one as well because it is on the opposite side of town. I imagine that's true of a majority of the other locations they acquired, too; that, or else those locations are literally the only pharmacies in their respective towns (once more, Aberdeen comes to mind...). And for the locations that have already closed, such as Yazoo City and D'Iberville, it's really a shame that Walgreens couldn't make it even though Rite Aid had presumably been successful in the same spaces for such a long time.
We'll end our quick tour of the Vicksburg Rite Aid/Walgreens conversion just as we started it, with another look at the store's roadside sign -- still wearing its classic Rite Aid architecture, just with a new Walgreens refresh. I hope you've enjoyed this post investigating all of the Mississippi Rite Aid-to-Walgreens conversions, and indeed all of the blog's Rite Aid posts! I'm not ruling out any additional Rite Aid content in the future, but for now, this will conclude our series, which has been running three-to-four times a year for the past three years. It's been a ride!
Also, as I write this, it's December 23rd, which means that Christmas is right around the corner. So, I wish a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and a happy holiday season to all of my readers no matter what they celebrate! Hope you all have a healthy and happy new year in 2021 as well. I'll be back in January with more new posts, and I hope you'll join me then! For the time being, though... thanks for reading -- not just this post, but throughout the year -- and as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!