Bartell Drugs, the Seattle-based chain of 68 drugstores and health clinics, will close its location on Third Avenue and Union Street early next year, complaining of the neighborhood’s crime rates and burdensome Seattle regulations.
In a statement, the company said the cost of broken and stolen items, armed security guards and regulations on businesses imposed by the city of Seattle made the store unprofitable. Bartell will shutter the store even before its lease expires.
“The 3rd Ave. corridor has been a tough challenge,” Hannah Kubiak, communications manager at Bartell Drugs, said in an email. “We have not seen improvements that will enable us to have a profitable location in this area.”
Bartell doesn’t plan on expanding its downtown presence, save for a Belltown store opening in October that was in the works before the company decided to stop growing in the downtown area. A Seattle Times investigation of 911 calls showed calls in the downtown area increased by 41% (mostly regarding theft and assault) from 2010 to 2018. Conversely, 911 calls in the rest of Seattle increased by 21%.
Bartell Drugs shares a corridor with the discount goods stores T.J. Maxx and Ross, a few fast-food restaurants and a high-end Gelateria.
The drugstore chain still has more than a dozen stores in Seattle. The Third Avenue store is survived by two other downtown locations within about four blocks.
“While it is always a difficult decision to close a store, we are dedicated to providing excellent service to our customers until we close the location next year,” Kubiak said.