The ordinary rush of customers in and out of two Walgreens locations on Gough and Clement streets, respectively, slowed to a trickle. Customers were greeted with signs informing them Monday was the last time those locations would be open.
“I’m disappointed,” said Komendi Kosasih. “I need to get something for my cold and this is a busy street. Why would they close this thing Ridiculous.”
Walgreens said it’s closing five stores around the city due to rampant theft. City leaders believe otherwise, arguing that Walgreens is using the sometimes brazen thefts as an excuse to close several stores after it overextended itself.
Monday’s store closures hit hard for some customers.
“It’s very sad,” said Lita Guinto. “It’s very convenient for me to get my stuff from there.”
Guinto visited the location on Clement one last time to say goodbye to staff inside who’ve become friends. She said she’ll now have to walk to the nearest Walgreens on Geary Boulevard and cross a busy street to get there.
“Now I have to cross Park Presidio,” said Guinto talking about the intersection. “Yeah, it’s really scary there, a lot of people have died.”
The closures could also contribute to the growing problem of vacant storefronts in San Francisco.
Convenience stores can act as anchor businesses, but Kevin Ryan from Green Apple Books said big corporate entities like Walgreens can pull out of a neighborhood in the blink of an eye, leaving neighbors scrambling and impacting surrounding businesses.
“It’s all an eco-system and the more empty storefronts there are the more unhealthy the eco-system,” said Ryan.
Richmond District Supervisor Connie Chan agrees that the loss of the Walgreens on Clement will impact the neighborhood, but she’s hoping that as one business closes others will open.
“Walgreens will be missed, but at the same time there could be opportunities for small businesses to come in,” said Supervisor Chan. “Perhaps it’s not just one small business in this space, it’s a big space, perhaps there could be multiple small businesses coming together to have a joint venture in that corner.”
Two other Walgreens stores, one on Ocean Avenue and another on Mission Street, have already closed. One more location on Cesar Chavez Street is set to close for good on Wednesday.