BERLIN – After 17 years in Berlin, Apple Discount Drugs will close next week.
Apple Discount Drugs on Franklin Avenue in Berlin will close its doors Sept. 22. Owner Jeff Sherr said Rite Aid would be purchasing the store’s files and inventory.
“It hurts me because our job is to take care of the community,” Sherr said. “It’s just a move that has to be made.”
Apple Discount Drugs, which opened in Berlin in 2003, has faced a number of hurdles in recent years that led to its closure, according to Sherr. The store lost business a few years ago when Worcester County signed an agreement with CVS Caremark, making it less convenient for employees to go to independent pharmacies like Apple.
Though the situation has since been remedied, Sherr said the damage had been done. On top of that, in the fall of 2018 there was a fire at the Berlin store. The fire, caused by an electrical issue with the store’s sign, damaged primarily the top of the building but repairs kept the store from fully functioning for months.
“It took until May of 2019 to get us back together,” Sherr said. “It hurt our business.”
The arrival of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated Apple’s troubles. Sherr said when Rite Aid approached, interested in files and inventory but not the brick and mortar building, Apple Drugs took advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s strictly a business decision,” he said. “The sad part is when you’re a locally owned pharmacy, your heart and soul is in it. We go out of our way for people. When you deal with chains, it’s just a job.”
Sherr says independent pharmacies are closing throughout the country as the prevalence of pharmacy benefit managers grows and drug costs are mandated by insurance companies.
“The busyness of a store doesn’t necessarily correlate with the profitability of a store…,” he said. “The idea is, you take care of the customer and you make a profit. The insurance companies are negating that.”
Sherr said Rite Aid would be reaching out to those who had prescriptions filled at Apple in Berlin to share the news of the agreement. Sherr said some of the Apple staff in Berlin would be moving to Rite Aid while others would take positions at Apple Discount Drugs in Fruitland.
Sherr said Apple Discount Drug’s lease on the building didn’t expire until 2022 but he expects the landlord to try to rent the location in the meantime.