West Seattle-headquartered Bartell Drugs sold to Rite Aid

(WSB file photo)

Bartell Drugs, headquartered in North Delridge since 2012, has just been sold to Rite Aid. From the announcement on the company website:

… Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult for a mid-sized drugstore chain to operate independently. Changes in the pharmacy world, business tax increases and the pandemic created very strong headwinds for us. We knew we needed to do something to re-shape Bartell’s future.

For months now, we have carefully considered the best way to move forward, and we believe we have found the most successful way. Today, we announced our agreement to sell Bartell Drugs to Rite Aid.

This was a well-thought-out decision and we would like to tell you what this means to you.

First, we are thrilled that the Bartell name and heritage will remain. We expect you, as well as our 1,700 employees, to see little or no change in our 67 stores for some time to come. In fact, the change may be hardly noticeable as you will continue to benefit from having our ongoing pharmacy care and support with the same friendly teams and still enjoy our other unique products and services. In addition, Bartell Drugs will be owned by the local Bartell family until the acquisition is approved by financial and regulatory agencies. This process will take us most likely to early December and could be longer.

Second, we are confident Rite Aid is the best choice. Their management team has a fresh vision of how drugstores can best serve health care needs. Of our many options, their strategy and vision best align with our Bartell values and allows Bartells to continue to do what we do best, serve our community. To serve you!

We are excited about this excellent opportunity with Rite Aid, who wants us to continue to do what we do best, to serve you in the “Bartell” way. …

Rite Aid’s announcement says the purchase price is $95 million.

Bartell and Rite Aid have two stores each in West Seattle. We’re checking on the status of the corporate offices.

83 Replies to "West Seattle-headquartered Bartell Drugs sold to Rite Aid"

  • just wondering October 7, 2020 (11:38 am)

    Sorry to see another Seattle business be sold off.

  • LyndaB October 7, 2020 (11:53 am)

    Wow.  I hope the stores don’t change.  I love their focus on NW products. It’s one of my favorite places to go to.

  • Derek October 7, 2020 (12:00 pm)

    Capitalism is cool

  • editrixie October 7, 2020 (12:02 pm)

    Oh no. Rite Aid is terrible. That means all the natural and local brands will disappear, because Rite Aid doesn’t stock much of anything in those categories. Their service is nonexistent. I have prescriptions there because it’s within walking distance but I just hate having to go there. Bartell’s is usually clean and tidy, too.

    • Ms Meadows October 7, 2020 (12:36 pm)

      That was my immediate reaction, too. The local product difference is why I’ve been a loyal Bartell’s customer for 20+ years. We will have to be vocal!

    • Peter October 7, 2020 (4:50 pm)

      Could be worse, could have been Wallgreen. Frankly Rite Aid carries some products Bartell doesn’t, which is why I end up there. 

  • Jort October 7, 2020 (12:06 pm)

    Expect much more of this in the post-COVID economy. The gigantic mega-corporations that have been sitting on Smaug-level hoards of wealth will be acquiring smaller companies, causing even more consolidation and centralization of wealth. But, of course, the small businesses of Seattle will somehow not see this and continue to delude themselves into thinking their interests align with Amazon’s when it comes to taxation and the “clowncil.” Junction Chamber: Amazon is not your friend. Ever. Not now, not ever.

    • PedroTheLion October 7, 2020 (1:39 pm)

      Amazon’s 50,000 employees in Seattle making an average of $110,000 per year are certainly friends to the small businesses of Seattle. They are the ones who are fueling those small businesses. Same thing with the likes of Microsoft and Boeing. Those big businesses are who provide paychecks for all those people who patronize small businesses (not to mention a health B&O tax to the government,). 

      • Mr K October 7, 2020 (4:19 pm)

        A bit yes, but they are not driving small business up they are driving small business out. Also, it’s worth noting that Amazon doesn’t pay taxes, and they’ve recently cut health care to all part-time employees. 

        • Greg October 8, 2020 (5:05 pm)

          Amazon owed, and paid,  $162 million in federal taxes in 2019.

      • LivesInWS October 7, 2020 (9:24 pm)

        Suuuuuure. Those of us who see house and rent prices going up along with traffic and congestion could do without Amazon very nicely, thank you. Plus a 2nd reminder that Amazon does not pay any taxes. 

        • PedroTheLion October 8, 2020 (3:06 pm)

          Seems you are part of the problem, being as how you operate on bad information. Amazon paid more than $300M in state and local taxes in 2018, and another $250M in 2017 (more recent figures are not yet available). All told they have paid over a BILLION dollars in state and local taxes in the last 4 years alone. So please, if you are going to attack Amazon, at least get your facts straight. 

    • Anne October 7, 2020 (3:46 pm)

      Oh please. 

    • my two cents ... October 7, 2020 (4:13 pm)

      @Jort sorry I missed the part where the Rite Aid forced the owners to sell. Can you share some more of your insight into the why, how, when all of this occurred? Would love to hear a recap of our in-depth discussion with the Bartell family on this. To boil it down to a stock response is short-sighted.

    • Patrick October 9, 2020 (4:46 am)

      Rite aid is a debt loaded company.. nothing wealthy about them (unless you also think your neighbor up their eyes in credit card debt is also wealthy). I’m happy to hear Bartell’s will generally stay the same, and I hope employees and shoppers benefit from the merger.For reference on their debt, page 73 of their 2019 10-K financial statements filed with the SEC. or just google Rite Aid Debt and read Wall Street analyst commentary.

  • anonyme October 7, 2020 (12:06 pm)

    Guess it’s time to switch my prescriptions to someplace cheap with free delivery.  Loyalty doesn’t really pay off, apparently.

  • Fiwa Jcbbb October 7, 2020 (12:09 pm)

    Well, the COVID Pandemic has been very good for mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, stock buybacks and such. And another local company cashes out. Capitalism is REALLY cool if you’re one of the few reaping the rewards, but it does ****-all for the rest of us. DUMP TRUMP 2020

    • Chuck Jacobs October 7, 2020 (12:40 pm)

      If you think this would have gone any differently under a Hillary Clinton presidency,  well, enjoy living in that world.I predict that all Bartell’s stores will be rebranded Rite-Aid within five years.

      • Jill October 7, 2020 (1:18 pm)

        If Bartell Drugs was sold due to falling profits from the pandemic, it’s reasonable to point some blame at the Trump administration. Their failure to mitigate the dangers of the pandemic—even seven months after it hit the U.S.—continues to cripple the economy.  

        • Resident October 7, 2020 (10:09 pm)

          Not a Trump fan here but please do not delude yourself into thinking this pandemic would be any different under any other president. That is just blind hate of Trump and not helpful at all.

          • B W October 8, 2020 (8:05 am)

            Oh please, he can’t even keep the disease out of the white house with his “plan” of “do nothing”. Would certainly have been different, you’re the one kidding yourself. 

      • LivesInWS October 7, 2020 (9:26 pm)

        Fits in perfect with a Trump administration except Bartell’s didn’t go bankrupt 5 x like Trump. Least with Clinton we’d not be dealing with an out-of-control pandemic. BTW, why is Clinton living rent-free in your head 4 yrs after the 2016 election?

    • smittytheclown October 7, 2020 (2:55 pm)

      Yes, we know.Mergers, acquisitions and buybacks started in January of 2017…….

  • Joan October 7, 2020 (12:23 pm)

    This is very sad news! I always prefer Bartell’s over national chains. Well, I hope it’s true that they do not  plant to change the Bartell brand of service and products. I just wish their prescriptions were a little cheaper and they were in my health plan.

  • wseaturtle October 7, 2020 (12:34 pm)

    I agree FIWA,, its Trumps fault.Sad to see the Bartell’s go. They are wonderful little stores, with nice people working there. Well maintained, convenient, with items you don’t see in other stores.  T hanks Bartells for the many memories and services. Good luck. No doubt it’s difficult to run a business like this.  Still,  I think you sold too cheap, but who am I to say. Heck, I woulda given ya 100 mil.

    • Rick October 7, 2020 (1:53 pm)

      “it’s Trumps fault.” Really? In a convoluted way of thinking I’d imagine President Trump could be blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs also, among many, many other things. Almost everything.

  • Alex S. October 7, 2020 (12:34 pm)

    So, the city council pushes more taxes, regulations and laws on local business… and surprise, surprise they sell to national mega corporations.  I guess if you’re a socialist, this is just part of “late stage capitalism” theory silliness

    • Stevie J October 7, 2020 (1:29 pm)

      Which “taxes, regulations and laws” do you have in mind? The ones that say employers must pay workers enough so they can barely afford to live in the expensive city where they work? 

      • Timothy October 7, 2020 (4:57 pm)

        So you’re saying you’d rather have them pay workers nothing at all then? Since the alternative is the business not existing? A lot of hungry Boeing families probably thought they were better off before I think. Conversely, the ones in South Carolina who now get to have jobs are probably looking forward to their new opportunities.

        • Stevie J October 7, 2020 (11:00 pm)

          Timothy, I think we’re on the same page. I was being sarcastic saying “barely enough” because $15 or $16/hr is being seen by some as luxurious, but really it’s not very much and I think retail workers should be paid much more.

          • Greg October 8, 2020 (5:08 pm)

            The low valuation for the acquisition indicates that the stores were losing money. Not a lot of space for wage growth unless the business model is sustainable.

    • Mr K October 7, 2020 (2:59 pm)

      What taxes and regulations do you speak of? They mentioned “taxes” but never mentioned if it was City, State or Federal. The council has very little power to hike taxes and if protecting workers is socialism than you should count every citizen that benefits from workers rights that have been fought for over the last 100+ years (probably you and privilege too). 

      • Jake October 7, 2020 (5:25 pm)

        “Very little power to hike taxes”?

        Like the sugar tax, tax on firearms and ammunition,and the new payroll tax?On the contrary, the City Council can pass whatever tax they can dream up.

        • Mr K October 7, 2020 (6:02 pm)

          The payroll tax hasn’t taken effect so that’s moot for this. Those other taxes are not biz taxes. 

  • Kram October 7, 2020 (12:42 pm)

    Two companies making a mutually agreed decision which keeps the Bartell Drugs name and model in tack for the foreseeable future. I don’t get what the big deal is here. The announcement implies the alternative is job loses and cut backs as doing business in the area becomes so much harder. This avoids that. Why is the sky always falling in West Seattle?!? Also, unrelated, this seems like a cheap purchase price to me. 1.4 mil a store. I wonder if there was a large debt to take on.

    • Jill October 7, 2020 (1:45 pm)

      Expressing disappointment that a beloved local brand sold to a major corporation is not an overreaction, especially if they were basically forced to do so. Also btw, we don’t act like the sky is always falling…just our bridge.

    • WSEA October 7, 2020 (2:43 pm)

      Kram, Having gone through a handful of mergers and divestures (as an employee and a consultant), I believe it’s safe to say the HQ will get downsized or removed.  I dont see much change with the stores but consolidation at HQ to reduce cost is always in the plan. Hopefully, they always keep branding and local items.   

    • Anne October 7, 2020 (4:00 pm)

      You know it’s ok -to feel bad for the loss of a family owned -family   friendly company that has been in business since before you were born. The sky isn’t falling in WS – but a piece of our community is going away. I’m happy no stores are closing , no employees will be let go.The name may stay the same-but Rite -Aid has big shoes to fill 

  • Glurk McTavish ESQ October 7, 2020 (12:50 pm)

    One more miserable reason to hate 2020.

    As we bury yet another Northwest brand, it must be pointed out that soon we may as well live in a soulless homogenized stripmall.

    • smittytheclown October 7, 2020 (2:58 pm)

      You’re free to start one up.  Appears to be at least some demand.

  • norskgirl October 7, 2020 (12:54 pm)

      I love Bartell’s for the clean, tidy, well-lit, meaningfully stocked, friendly, service-actualized employees.  And for the family-owned heritage.  I always looked forward to doing business at any Bartells.  Hopefully this will not change.  However, my experience with Rite Aid has found the stores to be not tidy, not well-lit, and not particularly friendly or helpful.   Guess time will tell.  

    • Barb Z October 7, 2020 (5:14 pm)

      Norskgirl – you expressed my sentiments exactly.  I’ve shopped at Bartell’s for many years, and will really miss them as they gradually change into Rite-Aid.  Didn’t need this added to all the other sad changes happening this year.

  • Jill October 7, 2020 (12:59 pm)

    Wow. I am not optimistic about this. IMO, Rite Aid is the most depressing of all drug store chains. Bartells was a point of pride for Seattle and I hate to see it sold off like this. I should not be surprised, but I am.

  • newnative October 7, 2020 (1:03 pm)

    How sad. I hope there is another way to save Bartell Drugs. 

    • shotinthefoot October 7, 2020 (3:19 pm)

      @newnative – there is no “saving” Bartell’s. They chose to sell to Rite Aid. 

  • Loyal B customer October 7, 2020 (1:18 pm)

    I would expect the cost of goods and prescriptions to go up with Rite-Aid ownership.  Rite-Aid stores products are expensive, Bartell’s will follow suit no doubt.

  • Lola October 7, 2020 (1:23 pm)

    It does say in all of the Articles that Bartells is not going to change, but like the rest of you I don’t know if I believe that?  I too shop Bartell’s for its Clean Appearance and it’s friendly employees. 

  • Beto October 7, 2020 (1:31 pm)

    That’s sad. Whenever I went to other cities and saw Walgreen’s Rite Aid, etc., I felt pride to know we had our local locally owned pharmacy chain.  Now that will be gone…I guess is a sign of the times.

  • Heartless? October 7, 2020 (1:41 pm)

    This has nothing to do with Trump.

  • Kadoo October 7, 2020 (2:03 pm)

    So sad! 

  • Kalo October 7, 2020 (2:23 pm)

    Rite Aid is like a disheveled, disorganized substitute school teacher that doesn’t really give a crap! This  is very sad news. 😢

  • Joseph October 7, 2020 (2:27 pm)

    Thank Lisa Herbold, Jenny Durkan, and the entire city council for this. Bartells lists Seattle’s increasing business taxes as a prime factor in their tragic decision. Elections have consequences.

    • KM October 7, 2020 (4:29 pm)

      I missed the “prime factor” part, or that is was Seattle’s business taxes specifically (and if you are referring to JumpStart, Durkan vetoed that). But going with your take, I guess they must be paying most of their staff 150k+ a year if it was the .7% tax on al those high-paying in-store jobs that caused them to sell? (Joke’s on me for not getting a job there?) I mean, if they have payroll of at least 1 billion maybe it was the 1.4% tax that killed them? Hard to say when we are embellishing a press release to fit our narratives! Personally, I blame the Mariners.

      • Resident October 7, 2020 (10:22 pm)

        Here you go.” We, of course, have seen business taxes rise in, you know, various taxes rise in Seattle, and COVID hits. And it was just one more thing, and we decided we had to figure out how to continue.”

      • Greg October 9, 2020 (8:47 am)

        The average Pharmacist salary in the United States is $137,174 as of September 25, 2020. (ref: salary.com) We can assume that Seattle-area pharmacists demand more than the national average and is likely over 150k.

        • Greg O October 21, 2020 (10:20 pm)

          This.It’s a Wonderful LifeI would rather have my prescriptions filled by someone who is making considerably more than minimum wage.

    • Mr K October 7, 2020 (4:29 pm)

      That wasn’t in the press release above, are you reading it somewhere else? Bartells is not just in Seattle BTW, “Taxes” is vague as they are not pointing out a specific tax nor would any local or State tax cause them to go under. PR Statements are not fact, only the family really knows, but “taxes” seems like a petty jab. 

      • Joseph October 7, 2020 (6:55 pm)

        “… Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult for a mid-sized drugstore chain to operate independently. Changes in the pharmacy world, business tax increases and the pandemic created very strong headwinds for us. We knew we needed to do something to re-shape Bartell’s future.”

        • Mr J October 8, 2020 (4:53 pm)

          Yeah, my point. “Taxes” is not specific. You’re blaming people at the City Level when there’s no evidence to believe they had any part in it. Furthermore Bartells is not Seattle specific, they could be referring to State Taxes, Federal Taxes or all of them. Bartells clearly didn’t go out if their way to shame Seattle so why are you?

  • dsa October 7, 2020 (2:28 pm)

     How soon can we use 2020 as a swear word?

    • Yep October 7, 2020 (6:00 pm)

      We already do… too soon for “Hindsight is 2020?”

  • Loulou October 7, 2020 (2:39 pm)

    Unfortunate news. Rite Aid stores are really uninspired places to shop. Same thing happened to Metropolitan Market last year. They sold out to some big corporation and the store is slowly becoming no different than any other big chain grocery. Sad….I will miss Bartells. 

  • Kat October 7, 2020 (3:15 pm)

     Bartell employees most likely managers, will be laid off. Thanks Bartell Drugs. Old George would be spinning in his grave by now.

  • Brian Hughes October 7, 2020 (3:41 pm)

    This is sad. I’d rather see Seattle businesses buying, not selling.  Maybe there wasn’t a next-gen family member up to the task. 

    • Onion October 7, 2020 (5:11 pm)

      I have been moving a lot of my prescription business to Pharmaca. But Bartells remains a  big improvement on Walgreens and Rite Aid for everything else health and beauty related, and they have decent deals on food, etc.

  • daisyg October 7, 2020 (3:53 pm)

    This is really sad. Love Bartell’s and shop there all the time. The selection is great, I always buy the NW products, and they have a unique diverse selection of items that’s always infused with new variety.Great staff, my kids and I have gotten to know them over the years. Stores are clean, well lit and fun to browse, which leads to a lot of spontaneous purchases.Always feel good about shopping at a Seattle based, family owned business.I’m sure this was not an easy decision for them, but ya, this one hits hard. I will not shop Rite Aid for so many reasons.  But as long as the current Bartell’s team is at Admiral, I will support them by shopping there.

  • nonna October 7, 2020 (4:16 pm)

    I hope rite aid will honor their commitment to maintain the Bartell business model.  I love their stores, and their product and inventory availability!  I have always viewed rite aid as lower class to Bartell.  I am a Bartell loyal customer for 50 years!

  • West Seattle since 1979 October 7, 2020 (5:26 pm)

    This is so sad.

  • Mj October 7, 2020 (5:37 pm)

    Bartell’s has some really good deals and a nice local flavor that I hope will continue on after the buy out!

  • twicksea October 7, 2020 (6:47 pm)

    Bartell’s is a huge step up from any of the national chain pharmacies: cleaner, more inviting, nicer staff, better product selection including lots of local brands, long local history that seemed to matter.  I was happy to shop at a locally owned business, and drive right past Rite Aid and Walgreens to do so.  I’m very sorry that the current business climate made this sale necessary. I hope the new owners preserve jobs and continue to stock and support PNW products, but I feel naive thinking that’s really going to happen.

  • birds and the bees please October 7, 2020 (7:30 pm)

    55 comments so far on the blog in support of a drug store.

    0 comments on a recent post in support of our threatened/endangered salmon.

  • Bartell4Ever! October 7, 2020 (10:00 pm)

    So, Bartell get’s $95mil for a beloved chain, and the city pays $123mil for the Lander overpass.  So much for the perception that dealing drugs is highly profitable…..either that or Seattle is really bad at negotiating.

  • 1994 October 7, 2020 (10:41 pm)

    Keep in mind that employees at Seattle Rite Aid are our neighbors, friends, family members….I have shopped at the Westwood Village Rite Aid location for years and all the staff have always been thoroughly professional, courteous, and helpful.  I am sad to see Bartell Drugs be sold but I hope for the best with this change. Time brings change. Anyone remember PayNPak, Ernst Malmo, Chubby & Tubby….?

  • Ginny October 8, 2020 (9:05 am)

    So sad. I dislike Rite Aid so much. They have gone downhill over the last 20 years. And the ones near me have seemingly non existent business so I’m floored they have the $ to buy Bartells. I actually expected THEY would be going bankrupt soon. Very disappointed.

  • Jan October 8, 2020 (9:42 am)

    So sad!  I love Bartell’s and Rite Aid seems the exact opposite.

  • T Rex October 8, 2020 (9:52 am)

    Seeing this from another view, the company I work for does business with Bartell’s and DID business with Rite Aid. The difference between these two companies was night and day. Rite Aid was the worst customer I have ever had to work with in my 25 plus year career.  

  • Darlene Kohout October 8, 2020 (11:22 am)

    SO sorry to hear this, As an 82 year old recently retired Pharmacist, i used to attend conventions with George, Sr. I did work for them for a few years and it was a great company. I also owned my own pharmacies in Seattle in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s very hard to compete with major chains. Make me cry! I had hoped they could hang in there!!

    • WSB October 8, 2020 (11:34 am)

      Congratulations on your retirement! My husband/co-publisher is the son of a longtime pharmacist who worked well into his golden years too (in another state) and also owned his own drugstore for a while, so we can imagine the stories you have to tell. – TR

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