Reed Drug in Grand Rapids, MN, to close

Reed's Drug, the iconic downtown Grand Rapids, Minnesota business, will close Monday, Nov. 23.

Reed’s Drug, the iconic downtown Grand Rapids, Minnesota business, will close Monday, Nov. 23.

Reed Drug, arguably the most iconic downtown business in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, will close its pharmacy this Monday, Nov. 23 at the end of the business day. The gift store will close at the end of the year.

The store has been at this location since 1955, though has been operating in Grand Rapids since the 1920s.

In 2013, NuCara, a chain of small pharmacies, bought Reed Drug. The new company wanted to keep the business open, according to the Grand Rapids Herald-Review, but encountered specific challenges.

At the core of the issue is the way that pharmacies are reimbursed for costs within the drug industry. Funding shifts and new expenses make it harder for small pharmacies with less cash on hand, which has driven many of them to sell out to large pharmacies. For instance, Reed’s has sold their prescription base to Walgreens, which has a location in Grand Rapids.

This same problem was cited by the owners of Aurora Drug and Variety in the eastern Mesabi city of Aurora when they closed in August. Some in Aurora blamed that news on delays to the process for the proposed PolyMet mine in that area. That was a half-baked theory, and the closure of Reed’s only shows how much so.

Reed Drug is a major loss for Grand Rapids. Not only is it an old and identifiable business downtown, it was literally a bridge between periods of retail history. The store had a traditional downtown storefront but its rear exit emptied into the Central Square Mall, a fairly standard 1980s-style small town shopping mall.

Thus, the closure of Reed Drug is like the end of two retail eras all at once.


  1. Jutta Karin Schultz says

    I am saddened by this, but not surprised…it has changed so much over the years…there was not much there to buy anymore and some of the shelves looked pretty slim. It just forced us to shop somewhere else even though I got my prescriptions from there and loved their pharmacy. I am not sure what the answer is for the downtown area of Grand Rapids, but something has to happen soon or it will all move to the south. It is really hard to have a Major highway going through town with 4 lanes, it is constantly busy and so you can’t get that small downtown feel like it used to have…it is sad but it is what it is…

  2. Price pressure on pharmacies from insurers and pharmacy benefit management companies is causing widespread failures and closing of drug stores. Target has sold its pharmacy business to CVS. Walmart lost money on pharmacies in the last fiscal year. Numerous independent pharmacies are closing around the country and in Northeastern Minnesota.

    The trend suggests that most prescription drugs will end up being sold by online and mail order stores, which can hold overhead to a minimum and engage in aggressive bargaining with pharmaceutical companies. Many of these may end up being owned outright by large insurers. Most insurers already limit the choices their customers have in selecting a source of drugs to a few large companies they have negotiated deals with.

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