As More Walgreens Stores Close, Ingleside’s Lone Pharmacy to Become Busier

Ingleside had three pharmacies in 2017. In 2021, Walgreens is the last pharmacy remaining. Alex Mullaney/Ingleside Light

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The line of customers at Ingleside’s sole remaining pharmacy will get longer starting next month.

That’s what employees predict will happen when Walgreens Company closes two stores near its location on the 1600 block of Ocean Avenue next month, further reducing the number of pharmacies in the area. 

On Tuesday, Walgreens Company announced it would close five locations in San Francisco citing the rise in thefts.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso told SFGATE. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average.” 

The chain spends 46 times more on security at its San Francisco stores than at an average location, Caruso added. It’s not clear if this figure takes into account the higher cost of doing business in the city compared to elsewhere in the country.

The Ingleside Light has requested public records to determine how much crime is being reported to law enforcement at a number of Walgreens locations.

Ingleside’s Walgreens was the site of a theft that was recorded and went viral online at the “calmest robbery ever” last year.

Only Pharmacy

Two of the five Walgreens locations set to close are on either side of Ingleside, one on the 2500 block of Ocean Avenue in Lakeside Village and the other on the 4600 block of Mission Street in the Excelsior near where Ocean Avenue ends.

In 2017, there were three pharmacies to service residents of Ingleside: Target Express, CVS and Walgreens. 

CVS shuttered its location at 1760 Ocean Ave. in April 2017. Target closed its location at 1830 Ocean Ave. in June of this year.

Employees at Ingleside’s Walgreens said the store has picked up the customers since Target closed.

“Because we’re between both locations that are closing, we will be twice as busy,” a Walgreens employee who did not wish to be identified told the Ingleside Light.

Walgreens said it will transfer as many of its employees to other locations as possible.

Crime Debate

Theft and a high cost of doing business in the city led to the closure of 17 stores since 2016, a Walgreens representative told the Board of Supervisors in May. The company, which is the second-largest drugstore chain in the country, still had 53 stores in the city at that time.

The stated reason for closing the stores led to debates on Twitter and editorial pages about crime and safety across the city.

This week’s development led District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston to question if Walgreens’ actual motive was profits, not public safety.

“So is Walgreens closing stores because of theft or because of a pre-existing business plan to cut costs and increase profits by consolidating stores and shifting customers to online purchases?” Preston posted on Twitter, adding a link to a SEC filing that shows plans to close hundreds of stores. “Media reports have accepted without analysis Walgreens’ assertion that it’s closing due to retail theft.”

Mayor London Breed also pushed back on Walgreens’ claims.

“They are saying that’s the primary reason, but I also think when a place is not generating revenue, and when they’re saturated — SF has a lot of Walgreens locations all over the city — so I do think that there are other factors that come into play,” Breed said according to KPIX.

District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai was more than dismayed by the news of the five closures.

“I am completely devastated by this news — this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades,” Safai said on Twitter. “This closure will significantly impact this community.”

Safai introduced legislation earlier this month that would allow Sheriff’s Deputies work as private security during off-hours.

A call to District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar was not returned by press time.

Walgreens Locations Set to Close

  • 2550 Ocean Ave. will close on Nov. 8. Prescriptions will be transferred to 1630 Ocean Ave.
  • 4645 Mission St. will close on Nov. 11.Prescriptions will be transferred to 965 Geneva St.
  • 745 Clement St. will close on Nov. 15. Prescriptions will be transferred to 3601 California St.
  • 300 Gough St. will close on Nov. 15. Prescriptions will be transferred to 2145 Market St.
  • 3400 Cesar Chavez St. will close on Nov. 17. Prescriptions will be transferred to 2690 Mission St.