Walgreens Open

People come and go at Walgreens in Manchester on Saturday evening after the business reopened three months after a fire forced its closure.

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MANCHESTER — Walgreens reopened Saturday nearly three months after a fire shuttered the chain pharmacy.

Walgreens had been closed since Sept. 14 when a fire broke out in the back of the store and burned in the stockroom area.

Kris Lathan, a spokesperson with Walgreens’ media relations, said the store was damaged throughout, with the pharmacy area sustaining extensive damage.

Lathan said the cause could not be pinpointed.

When the store at 4993 Main St. reopened at 8 a.m. Saturday, customers started showing up.

But the previous three months were hard for many customers who were forced to either move their prescriptions to another pharmacy or, for those with insurance that required they use Walgreens, had to drive to Bennington or Rutland for their prescriptions.

The Pharmacy-Northshire reported getting hundreds of new customers after the fire.

Mathew McCormick of Manchester said Walgreens’ lack of communication was disappointing and left people scrambling to fill prescriptions. He was happy to see it reopen.

“It’s an asset to this community, and I’m glad it’s back,” McCormick said.

Melissa Paustian West of Manchester was another customer left in the lurch, and she ended up being one of many who switched to The Pharmacy-Northshire. West made the switch after emailing Walgreens about her issues and getting a reply they had received the communication and someone would respond within a two days.

“No one did,” West said. “The lack of communication from Walgreens has been very frustrating. I was able to switch to Pharmacy-Northshire and am beyond happy with them. They’re friendly, knowledgeable and very understanding.”

For many, however, the worst part was not knowing when the pharmacy would reopen, or if it even would reopen, as rumors circulated that the business was closed for good.

Those rumors were dispelled by construction at the site. But, a note telling customers the location would reopen in two weeks hung on the door for months as the only information came from visits to the Bennington location.

Richard Kaplan of Manchester said he was thrilled Walgreens was again open.

“They’re a big part of the community,” Kaplan said. “They have things it’s hard to get at other stores. With a community like ours, it’s nice to have a Walgreens around.”

Kaplan was one who had to use Walgreens as an insurance-designated pharmacy to keep prescription costs down.

“I’ve gone to Bennington at times and to Rutland at times when I needed to go for other reasons,” Kaplan said.

The fire came right after the store sustained what it called computer or network issues, forcing it to close for days at a time.

People also complained about several-day delays in getting prescriptions filled, and sometimes the store would be closed without any reason given, or would close early.

It was the lack of communication that most upset people on social media as the months ticked by after the fire.

Kaplan said Walgreens could have done itself a lot of good if it had simply issued a statement to communicate with the community.

“Walgreens’ big problem is they didn’t communicate at all,” Kaplan said. “There were rumors they were shutting down. This is a small community. You need to be a bit more open about it. A simple statement. That’s all they had to do.”

Corporate communications didn’t answer questions from the Journal about those problems until recently, as well. Emails and phone messages were not returned for most of two months.

But, in a recent communication, Lathan did apologize for the delay in reopening after the fire.

“We apologize for any inconveniences to our customers and patients as we addressed repairs following the fire,” Lathan said.

Lathan also responded to questions about the employees who were affected by the fire and closure.

“We are proud of the extraordinary efforts of our pharmacy and store team members who were reassigned to nearby locations in Wilmington, Bennington or Rutland while repairs took place,” Lathan said.

The statement did not address questions about the computer system closures before the fire or why there had been no communication after the fire.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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