The building housing the soon-to-close Rite Aid store in downtown Irwin has attracted a few potential buyers at the same time a business organization is pleading with the company to keep the store open.
Irwin Borough Manager Valerie Morton said Monday she has fielded calls for Rite Aid from interested buyers for the two-story brick building at 328-334 Main St. Morton declined to identify interested buyers.
Peter Strella, a Rite Aid spokesman, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc. purchased the building from Mack Realty for $135,000 in 1983, according to the deed filed with the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds.
The store is set to close Feb. 4. It will reopen a few days later to start liquidating the inventory, Rite Aid said earlier this month. Customers’ prescription files are being transferred to Rite Aid pharmacy locations in North Huntingdon at 10 Clay Pike and 8775 Norwin Ave.
Meanwhile, an Irwin business group is trying to get Rite Aid to reverse the decision the company said was made after an evaluation of its business.
“We’re still trying to get them (Rite Aid) not to do it,” said Lois Woleslagle, president of the Irwin Business & Professional Association. “We’re pleading with them. We want them to stay.”
The store, which also sells health and beauty aids and some groceries, is especially important to residents of the nearby Irwin Manor, an apartment building for the elderly, Woleslagle said.
“They can walk to the store,” Woleslagle said, noting Irwin lacks a downtown grocery store.
The organization has initiated a letter-writing campaign to convince Rite Aid to reverse its decision, Woleslagle said.
The building has a long history in Irwin. It once housed an opera house on its third floor, Woleslagle said.
Woleslagle recalled as a young girl her father telling her that he would go into Irwin to the opera house before the Depression, that began in October 1929.
The opera house, lit by candles, burned, but the remaining two stories of the building were saved, Woleslagle said.
“It was gorgeous,” Woleslagle said of the town’s opera house.