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Walgreens closes San Francisco Financial District location; seniors protest

Seniors protest closure of SF Financial District Walgreens store
Seniors protest closure of SF Financial District Walgreens store 03:02

SAN FRANCISCO – Citing less foot traffic in the Financial District, the Walgreens at the corner of Sacramento and Front Streets in San Francisco decided to close its doors for good on Tuesday.

But on its last day in business, a group of seniors held a rally outside, hoping to put some pressure on the company to consider changing course.

"Why close this one? They already closed the one on Drumm Street," said Alec Bash, the VP of the Gateway Tenants Association.

At least two dozen seniors came together for the rally, including Terry Kraus.

She showed CBS News Bay Area the store is only about a five minute walk from her apartment complex, which has more than 1,200 units of housing.

"Losing the store that was so close to so many residents is a big blow," she said. "Here, we walk. It makes a big difference – especially for an older person or a disabled person of any age – if it's a 5 minute walk or if it's a 15 minute walk."

A Walgreens spokesperson provided CBS News Bay Area with the following statement:

"When faced with the difficult decision to close a location, several factors are taken into account, including our existing footprint of stores, dynamics of the local market, and changes in the buying habits of our patients and customers, among other reasons. This location's closure is due to a significant decrease in foot traffic in the Financial District since the onset of the pandemic."

"What are people going to do?" Kraus asked.

Walgreens has another location in the area, per the spokesperson.

"The next closest location is a half mile away at 300 Montgomery Street and our store team is and will continue to assist current patients with the transition of prescriptions. We're also taking additional steps to better accommodate patients including sending our pharmacists to the Gateway Apartment Complex to help with prescriptions needs as well as offering free and reduced prescription delivery for 90 days."

 "My 98-year-old neighbor who was able to walk to the one that's closing today – she can't walk to 300 Montgomery," Kraus said. "She's going to stay on a bus for 40 minutes to go to Laurel Village."

What's more troubling, said Kraus, is this isn't the first pharmacy the area has lost in recent years.

"We've also had 5 CVS stores within walking distance close," she said. "We had a small Target close. We really depend on this Walgreens that is closing today."

This is the second Walgreens within walking distance to close in recent years, she said. When the last one closed on Drumm Street, she was glad to see the neighborhood still had one option left. Her thought process at the time?

"The other one has to stay in business," she said. "We need a pharmacy, we need the other things that Walgreens sells."

The closure comes the same day Macy's announced its flagship San Francisco store in Union Square would be closing, alongside numerous other closures around the country.

"You know, it's distressing. It makes me wonder what the tourists think when they come here," Kraus said.

But despite the closures, Kraus says she feels like things have picked up in her neighborhood over the last year.

"People are coming back downtown," she said.

She and her neighbors who showed up for the protest are actually optimistic about downtown's future, and they'd like Walgreens to bet on the area, too.

 "There are City and the Downtown San Francisco Partnership that have plans for revitalization," said Diana Taylor, President of the Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association. "There will be new businesses – like right across the street, The Royal Exchange just opened, Harrington's Bar and Grill just opened."

Time will tell if Walgreens decides to reverse course. Kraus hopes that is the case.

"Yes, the shelves are empty now," she said. "But empty shelves can be re-stocked."

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