Small owned pharmacies thrive as large chains close

According to the Center for an Urban Future there was a 3.1 percent decrease in the amount of chain stores across all five boroughs in New York City in 2023. 

This is the second largest amount of closures in a single year since 2020--the first year of the pandemic, according to the report.

The decline breaks a two-year streak of chain store growth in New York.

The report also showed that for the fifth year in a row, merchandise retailers, including pharmacies, and other non-food items that can be ordered online—closed at disproportionate rates.

It may feel like there's a chain pharmacy on almost every city block, but the number of them is down by triple digits--leading to a renaissance of mom-and-pop drug stores. 

A Rite Aid that once stood at the corner of Broadway and West 178th Street in Washington Heights sits dark, empty, and covered in graffiti. 

Family-owned drugstores are thriving as major chains close throughout New York City. 

According to the State of Chains 2023 report, of the nearly 3000 pharmacies registered with New York State as of November, only about 15 percent was a major chains. 

The closing of chain pharmacies is helping family owned ones like Washington Heights pharmacy & Surgical supplies inc.

"Our business has picked up tremendously,"

FOX 5 NY's Richard Giacovis spoke to Supervising pharmacist Linda Pierre-Lewis who helped open the store last year. 

Rite Aid pharmacy closed in New York City. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

Pierre-Lewis said that business picked up when the Rite Aid closed its doors; "Our business has picked up tremendously," she said. 

She said supply and demand has increased for them. They now have more patients, and patients with different kinds of medicines that they have to make sure they now carry.  

Unlike other big box pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS's this Washington Heights pharmacy carries Goya products, which is an essential household item, especially for the predominant Caribbean demographic in the area. 

Store Closed sign on front entrance of Walgreens pharmacy closed due to shoplifting, Queens, New York. (Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

"We're seeing a rise of small businesses again," says Carissa Reiniger, founder and CEO of Silver Lining, a company that works with small businesses. 

Across the country, Reiniger says that despite some believing that the days of mom-and-pop stores are over, they are in fact making a comeback.

Reiniger also pointed to several reasons why she thinks this could be the case, including chains being targets for crime. 

"Someone is probably more tempted to steal from a big chain than from a small business," Reiniger said.

Linda Pierre-Lewis says smaller pharmacies like the one in Upper Manhattan are better equipped to serve the community.