Photo of Lynne Deliman, Michelle Stanko, Belle McDermott, Shirl Holzer and Cheryl Roach standing in front of Rite Aid circa 2022.
By Elizabeth Perry
The only drug store in McKees Rocks is closing Oct. 4, forcing people who rely on the store to travel to Kennedy or across the bridge to Brighton Heights.
“It’s a shame they’re closing, isn’t it?” asked Stowe resident and Commissioner David Rugh.”It hurts the walking people and the elderlies. They rely on it for prescriptions and necessities.”
Rugh said he’d been shopping there since it was called Thrift Drug.
Through the years, the store has had many names from Thrift Drug, Eckerd, Eckerd Brooks and finally, Rite Aid. Uniquely, the store has retained much of the same staff throughout.
Manager Lynne Deliman has been with the company through four name changes and 36 years.
She was hired on July 22, 1986.
“I started as a cashier making $2.13 an hour," Deliman said. With her first paycheck she bought a breed of dog she called a Shih tzu Peek-a-poo named Jimmy from a lady she used to sell newspapers to, Dolly Kochman.
Customer Marianne Marnich said Deliman knows how to treat her employees and customers with respect.
“We’re gonna miss good workers who help people,” Marnich said. The Stowe resident added, “I think we should have a party to celebrate a legendary store."
Workers will mostly be relocated to the store in Kennedy.
“I’m very unhappy about the way they broke it to us,” said Cashier Shirley Holzer, who has worked there for more than 10 years, about being abruptly told the store would be closing in two weeks.
“We would’ve rather have all stayed together. We’re like a family. I love working with people.”
Those with prescriptions at the location can continue service with Rite Aid at the 1700 Pine Hollow Road or 3730 Brighton Road locations.
“It’s not even for us, it’s the older people. How are they going to get up to Kennedy? This is sad, really, really sad, especially the medicine part. You can pick up candy anywhere,” said customer Denise Hazlip. The McKees Rocks resident’s main concern was for those people who travel by bus, and the difficulty they would encounter trying to fill prescriptions.
Deliman said she was told the store was closing because it was underperforming financially.
Rite Aid announced it would close 143 unprofitable stores on April 13. Calls to Rite Aid headquarters were not returned.
Deliman said she didn’t think any stores were scheduled to move into the space once Rite Aid left.
“We still have 14 years on the lease,” she said.
Cashier Michelle Stanko, who started for Thrift Drug in 1996, said she would continue working at the Kennedy location. Although she accepted change was inevitable, she would miss her customers in McKees Rocks.
“I just feel bad for the community,” Stanko said.