After decades of doing business, the Rite Aid store in Marion will close. And its closing is generating new speculation about Marion getting a new and bigger Ingles in that shopping center.

Located at 625 W. Henderson St., the pharmacy and store already has posted signs saying that it will soon go out of business. Certain items such as school supplies, stationery, movies and DVDs and cosmetics are either 75 percent off or half off as the store tries to move out its merchandise.

Manager Mike Ansalvish said Wednesday the Rite Aid in Marion is closing because the lease ran out and it was not renewed. His store should be gone by the end of January but no one knows exactly when. It all depends on how much of the store’s inventory will be around by the first of 2018.

“It’s up in the air,” he said. “We will be here for the first few days of the new year.”

The Rite Aid in Marion has 10 employees. Ansalvish said he and the other employees will be reassigned to other stores within the company.

Customers who get their prescriptions filled at Rite Aid’s pharmacy will soon be able to get them filled at CVS on the five lane. A sign both outside and inside the Rite Aid tells customers their prescriptions will be available at CVS as of Dec. 13. But customers will have the option of having their prescriptions sent to other places like Marion Pharmacy or Walmart.

“They can choose whichever pharmacy they want,” said Ansalvish.

Recently, the Walgreens chain announced it would take over more than 1,900 Rite Aid stores. Ansalvish said he did not know if Marion would get a Walgreens in the future. But the Rite Aids in Morganton, Black Mountain and Rutherfordton will be converted over to Walgreens stores, he added.

For many long-time residents, this is the end of an era. A drug store has been at that location in the shopping center since the 1970s. It was first an Eckerd store before it became a Rite Aid.

On Wednesday, the store was filled with customers seeking to take advantage on the going-out-of-business sales.

“I’m very sad,” said Cristina Creasman of Marion. “It was like family.” She added she’s gotten her prescriptions filled there for the past 25 years, when it was Eckerd and later Rite Aid.

“I hate this is happening,” said Sharon Tipton of Marion. “This is a staple here.”

Like Creasman, she got her medicines from this pharmacy over the years.

Lisa McKinney of Marion was looking over the school and office supplies that are 75 percent off. Like so many others, she’s gotten her prescriptions filled at this store.

“I just hate to see it go,” she said. “It’s really sad.”

But something bigger and new might be on the horizon for that shopping center. For years, local residents have speculated about the possibility of Marion getting a bigger and more up-to-date Ingles supermarket like the ones in Black Mountain, Morganton and other nearby cities. These large stores have wider aisles, more merchandise, an expanded deli, a pharmacy, a Starbuck’s and a gas station.

The Rite Aid store is located right beside the existing Ingles store. Those are the only two stores now in that shopping center, which is owned by Ingles. Several businesses that were previously there – like the Moore’s department store and the Hallmark store – are long gone and no new tenants were brought in to replace them.

Local residents have speculated that once the Rite Aid store is gone, Ingles will start working to build a new and bigger supermarket for Marion like those in other cities.

The McDowell News attempted unsuccessfully twice on Wednesday to contact a spokesperson with the Ingles corporate office and distribution center in Black Mountain about the situation. The managers of the Marion store declined to comment.

Matthew Crawford, building inspector for the city of Marion and a county commissioner, said Wednesday he’s not received a set of plans from Ingles yet.

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