Rochester, New York – Some residents of the 19th Ward refer to their area as a business desert.
Since the pandemic hit the area in 2020, a number of significant companies have closed, and Walgreens on Thurston Road will soon join them.
Many neighbors are concerned about where they will buy basics as a result of the closures.
Since 2003, Ruby Martinez has been the proprietor of the clothing shop Fashion Flair on Brooks Avenue. She claimed to have witnessed half a dozen local businesses close in the previous two years.
We don’t want this to turn into an economic wasteland, therefore I’m worried about the businesses that are closing,” Martinez added. “The businesses are essential for the neighborhood since older people and some of the local kids need a safe place to go,”
Next to People’s Choice Kitchen, whose owner Evangela Stanley is likewise worried about the effects of Walgreens closing across the street, is Fashion Flair.
“It is going to be a huge void in our neighborhood here,” Stanley said. “There’s a lot of people that depend on Walgreens, especially the elderly, for the flu shots, their medicine. It’s in walking distance for a lot of people. If they close Walgreens, the next Walgreens or pharmacy is miles away.”
Local to the 19th Ward, Rochelle Brock, concurred that the closing of shops and banks is causing locals to travel great distances to other establishments.
“It’s just not fair to the people in the community, especially us seniors who don’t have cars or transportation to get around in the community to get what they need, especially their prescriptions,” Brock said. “That’s what frustrated me.”
Martinez and Stanley claimed to have discussed their worries with city officials.
“If they had some sort of rent control where a small business could stay in business because of the rent, but they can’t stay in business with the inflation,” Martinez said. “And the rent is very, very high.”