Future of Thrifty Ice Cream in doubt, Walgreens noncommittal

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Nirav Desai staff writer

Thrifty Ice Cream, a longtime Los Angeles treat, is in danger of melting away into discontinuity after Walgreens’ $17.2 billion purchase of Rite Aid Pharmacy. Thrifty, the award-winning staple of Southern California drugstores for 75 years, may not survive the impending merger of the two corporations, which will officially combine to form the largest drugstore chain in America during the second half of 2016.

Prior to the brand’s eventual demise, Rite Aid stores will be allowed to operate under their existing names and sell Thrifty Ice Cream and other Rite Aid products to a loyal, vocal fanbase in the southland. However, Walgreens has been noncommittal regarding the fate of the creamy confection after it is brought into the fold within the next year.

In an October statement to the LA Times, Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso simply divulged that “decisions on product lines will be made later,” while in a separate statement to CBS LA, a Walgreens spokesman similarly articulated that “working together, decisions will be made over time regarding the integration of the two companies.”

The company’s repeated refusals to publicly embrace a future of Thrifty Ice Cream being sold in Los Angeles Walgreens locations was enough to strike a chord with senior Alex Alcalde.

“I’m a little heartbroken. I don’t eat a lot of ice cream but I love Thrifty a lot. Dreyer’s is ‘whatever’ and the other [store-bought] ice creams are the worst. Basically, Häagen-Dazs, Baskin-Robbins and Thrifty are the only ones I really like. Jeez, is this really happening?” Alcalde said.

Fellow senior Elijah Pilgrim-Duque also listed Baskin-Robbins as a personal favorite, an affinity so strong that he never felt compelled to step foot in a Rite Aid.

“I never wanted to get [Thrifty’s]. I’ve barely heard of it. Baskin-Robbins’ variety and flavors are so good, there are so many different types of good ice creams. I prefer it to frozen yogurt,” Pilgrim-Duque said.

Thrifty-centric customers of Rite Aid may indeed be forced to turn to alternatives such as Baskin-Robbins should Walgreens axe the Thrifty brand, which Rite-Aid itself purchased in 1996 for $2.3 billion. Rivaling the smaller, now-imperiled Thrifty’s for decades, Baskin-Robbins has a wide array of locations in Los Angeles, and observes Kosher regulations in a region that may house “one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States,” according to Bruce Phillip of USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

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