Downtown Palo Alto Walgreens permanently closing

Walgreens at 300 University Ave. in Palo Alto. Post photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Walgreens at 300 University Ave. in Palo Alto will permanently close on June 9, the company said today (May 13), leaving a major vacancy in the once thriving downtown area.

“That is terrible,” commented Mayor Adrian Fine when the Post asked him about the closure. He said a pharmacy is a useful store to have on Palo Alto’s main street.

Councilwoman Liz Kniss said Walgreens has been on University Avenue for so long it has become an institution. She said the store sells everything including liquor.

“It’s sad that it’s going,” Kniss said.

She said she thinks it is reasonable to guess COVID-19 has something to do with the shutdown.

Commerical landlord John McNellis, who is not Walgreens’ landlord, said the loss will be a “blow” to Palo Alto.

“It’s one of our few key anchor tenants that’s neither food nor home furnishings,” he said.

The building opened in 1900 and originally was home to the Palo Alto Furniture Company, according to the Palo Alto History website. In 1924, it became a JC Penney store and, in 1973, Penneys was replaced by Walgreens. Over the years, the building had several additional tenants including Subway sandwiches and the Mercury News.

A four-alarm arson fire destroyed the building on July 1, 2007. It was replaced by the current three-story, 37,500-square-foot building in 2009.

The closure is part of a 200-store shutdown across the country, which represents about 3% of total Walgreens stores.

Walgreens spokeswoman Alexandra Brown sent the Post a statement confirming the closure and the next steps for customers and employees.

The company will transfer the store’s prescription files to the Midtown Walgreens store at 2605 Middlefield Road. Pharmacy customers will receive a letter about the store’s closure.

Most of the store’s employees will be transferred to other Walgreens, according to the statement.


  1. First West Elm boarded up its doors (and has since removed them), now this. when the rest of the state reopens, there may not be anything left Downtown to open. Sad.

  2. Walgreens is cutting hundreds of stores, just like Starbucks and other chains.

    Jane, it is mostly about real estate, not labor. Also, just like other retail, prescriptions are moving to mail order.

    • Actually, half of a typical drug store’s expenses are payroll. A city’s high minimum wage will make a store that has a thin profit margin a loser. Those are the first stores to be closed in a recession. Walgreens rents this space, so it doesn’t make any money by giving it up. I doubt rent was a factor in the decision to close.

    • yeah, best get $0 from work and handouts from the tax payers (the state takes its cut in the process, like a good parasite does).

      Time to read “Atlas Shrugged” to see how this all ends.

  3. Walgreens competed for years with a small pharmacy next door. They were never able to run the proprietor out of business. That was good because it gave consumers choices and better prices. Then they bought the guy out. Couldn’t take the completion. Now both are gone.

  4. Wow, hopefully CVS stick around. I don’t think Walgreens has ever recovered from the 2007 fire. After the rebuild, they categorized it as a “smaller” store, and refused to stock many of the items they previously carried. In addition, their rewards program, was no match for what CVS offers.

  5. There will be less sales tax given all these retail stores will be gone. City of Palo Alto – cut your labor costs.

  6. Retailers are used to small margins, and they close locations when they lose money, unless there is extreme political pressure to keep a location open.
    Without knowing the terms of the lease and store profit/loss, you expect its profit related.
    Too bad and I hope all the employees get similar jobs.

  7. yeah, best get $0 from work and handouts from the tax payers (the state takes its cut in the process, like a good parasite does).

    Time to read “Atlas Shrugged” to see how this all ends.

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