Saturday, March 30, 2019

Final days of the Rite-Aid former K&B Lake Charles La.

We are taking a final look at the former K&B in Lake Charles Louisiana. Once the sale of Rite Aid to Walgreens went through in 2018, this store and many other locations were immediately targeted for closure. Many Rite Aid locations were never remodeled and still retained the classic K&B look. The loss of these retro stores is yet another blow to the once vibrant retail history of Louisiana companies. Even though Rite Aid took these stores over, they kept them mostly the same with the exception of a few replacement stores. I doubt Walgreens will keep any of these stores open without significant remodels so the K&B look will be gone. 

The store was being cleared out, but only a few items were marked down.

The purple really stood out at the old pharmacy.

This could be a photo from 2018 or 1997. You would not know the difference.

Rite Aid had partnered with GNC to bring a variety of items into their stores.

I had to get a photo of this aisle sign before it is gone. The aisle sign is from Rite Aid, one of the few things that were changed when they took over the store.

A few more old school purple signs in the cosmetics section.

In this photo we can see remnants of K&B, Rite Aid, and now Walgreens.

A cheap coverup banner to advertise the change. When Rite Aid took over K&B, most of us were not happy. Now the last part of K&B that Rite Aid did not change is going away. I can see why these stores are going away, this store was virtually empty on my many visits here over the years. There was no drive-through pharmacy or a good option to build one at this location. There are 2 Walgreens stores less than a mile from this one, so why would they keep this one too. Thankfully there is a nearby Goodwill thrift store that was also a K&B to visit. That store still has the same floor, and the former pharmacy is still painted purple. It is not as well taken care of as this store was unfortunately.  

Yet another photo that could either be from 2018 or 1997, even the clock is old school.

Here are a few more views of the store.

The front of the store. 

A familiar sight, the Kroger that was located here moved to a new location a couple miles away.

A tornado hit this building which was a former Kroger, a few months after these photos were taken. This news report was taken from the right side of the store. The roof of the former Kroger was being repaired when I drove by in March 2019.

The view of the shopping center with the former Kroger to the right. The loss of Rite Aid will be a huge blow for this rapidly declining center.

This little piece of K&B still remains, long after the company was sold to Rite Aid in 1997.

Second trip, about a week before the store closed.

The purple ICE logo was still in place, just about all of the other ones were long gone.

Not many items on sale, this aisle looks normal despite most others being cleared out. 

The road sign to the shopping center.


  1. K&B was not a chain I had any personal experience with, but it's sad to see this vintage location go. Rite-Aid had a history of not updating their stores, even the ones that have always been Rite-Aids, very often. Here's a prime example of a Rite-Aid which is stuck in the 1980s or 1970s even.

    I don't know if the closing sale has anything to do with this, but this store seems to have very wide aisles and a lot of empty space which could have been used for more products. Usually drug stores are jammed packed to get as much as possible into a small location, but that does not appear to be the case here.

    It's hard to tell which looks more vintage, the inside or outside of this store. The flooring, clock, cosmetics signage, and so many other features really make this store look vintage, but it seems to have been maintained pretty well. The Kroger certainly looks like a earlier version of Kroger's famed greenhouse design. Unmodified current or ex-Krogers like that are becoming quite hard to find here in Houston, but there are some examples of them. Hopefully the Rite-Aid and/or Kroger can find new tenants, but it seems rather unlikely to me that national retail chains would be interested in this shopping center outside of maybe something like a Rainbow, CitiTrends, or something like that. Even then, I'm not so sure. Of course, I don't know this area very well.

    I wonder if this Rite-Aid had audio cassettes or any other vintage electronics for sale which would fit in with the decor and the aisle sign which advertises audio/video tapes and film. I'm glad you got a picture of that aisle sign. Those DVD racks seem pretty vintage these days even though just about every retailer has them. I read recently that DVDs still out-sell Blu-Rays so I guess people are still interested in growing their DVD collections. The Ty display also seems like a 1990s relic from the Beanie Baby craze, but I guess they're still around. The Pepsi machine certainly seems rather dated.

    On the topic of vintage drug stores, do you know if the Drug Emporium stores which you've blogged about in the past are still around? If so, I wonder how they are doing.

    Both Walgreens and CVS have closed a number of locations across the Houston area in recent years. It's a bit of a shame that there are closures, but too many locations were probably built in the 1990s and 2000s. I know that you and others from Louisiana on this blog have fond memories of K&B. I kind of feel the same way about Eckerd. I wonder if there are any vintage ex-Eckerd CVS locations in Houston which still look like an Eckerd's. I know there are some 2000s-era CVS ex-Eckerd's which look like what the new Eckerd's looked like in the 2000s, but I'm really talking about the older stores from the 1970s-early 1990s.

    1. The store aisles had not been moved in the photos, but a lot of the products were in the process of being removed at this point. This store never had high aisles like some of the smaller Walgreens or Eckerds had years ago. K & B kept their stores well stocked but Rite Aid seemed to keep a very low inventory.

      They were trying to sell off as much Rite Aid product before closing the store. All of the Rite Aid stores in the area were closing, so they were probably going to sell the remaining products at a loss to Big Lots or another closeout retailer.

      This store is right down the road from the former Lake Charles Kmart. There is a lot of recently vacated shopping center space to fill just from that building alone. It is right around the corner from the largest area university so maybe there is hope for these sites.

      Rite Aid still had cassette players including their generic Walkman. Blank VHS and cassettes were also still sold at this location.

      Yes the Drug Emporium stores I have covered are still open. The only one I have recently passed by is in Lafayette. They have a good online rating so I assume they are doing well.

      The vintage CVS in Humble recently closed. It still looked very much like it did as an Eckerds. It had been there at least since the 1980's. In addition the Greenhouse vintage Kroger in Crosby is closed as well. I passed by and it was boarded up, the newspaper said it opened in 1979. I am not sure if any of these older stores are still open around the area. Those were the last of those types of stores that I can remember. Kroger has been aggressively closing their smaller older stores around town. Most of them are not even being replaced by Marketplace locations, which is a shame.

    2. Kroger still has some Greenhouse stores in this area. Most of the interiors of these stores have been renovated in recent years to the hideous concrete floor look, but the outsides still have the vintage Greenhouse look. The best example in this area is the Bammel North Houston and Veterans Memorial Kroger (not far from North Oaks Mall). The Greenhouse outside got some modification done a few years ago, but it still mostly looks like it did 30 years ago. The interior still has a white vinyl tile floor AFAIK. The department signage was updated recently, but the layout is still the same that the store had 30+ years ago.

      The Seabrook and Cullen & Polk East Downtown Krogers are both still very vintage on the outside, but have concrete floors on the inside now. The West Rd. & Hwy. 6 and the Texas City Krogers are heavily modified later Greenhouse stores. They don't really look like Greenhouse stores on the outside, but they still have Greenhouse Kroger layouts on the inside.

      Anyway, it might be worth photographing these stores and making blog posts about them. I know you don't like to do grocery stores, but there's a lot of interest in Greenhouse Krogers and we still have a few left for now.

      It's a shame that another ex-Eckerd's CVS has closed in this area. Are there any 1970s-1980s Eckerd's-CVSes that are still open? I know some 1990-2000s ones are still around, but I'd love to visit an older location if any still exist. I probably should have done that when they were still plentiful, but oh well.

      It's good to hear that Drug Emporium is still hanging in there and is serving their customers well. Those are such interesting stores. They weren't around for very long in Houston, but they, along with the Phar-Mor stores from around the same period, certainly left an impression. I hope they stick around with their vintage stores for a lot longer.

      I've made a few recent visits to Randall's and I'm pleased to report that the store has been busier than normal during my last couple of visits. Perhaps the same sales that drew me in drew in other shoppers as well, I don't know. The stores were still nowhere near as busy as a Kroger, much less an HEB, but at least it's progress. I'm not always pleased with my visits to Randall's, but the last few stops have been good. I did get some meat from the meat counter and it came in a wrap only marked with the Albertsons name. I guess that's not a big surprise at this point. I wonder if Safeway stores out west and other chains under the Albertsons umbrella also get Albertsons wraps and such or if Randall's is so small that they're a bit of a special case.

    3. Kroger is having some issues financially, I can see more of their older stores closing. HEB and others are continuing to expand across the state, so Kroger will need to do more. Kroger stores near me have been publicly outed for issues with credit card skimmers and other issues.

      Randall's has to do something to bring in more customers. The new stores in the area will continue to take customers away.

  2. Would the floor of the Kroger in this photo be one of the "hideous" concrete floors?:

    1. I never went inside of this store while it was open. I can only guess that it was like the other Kroger that was close to I-210 that had the generic grocer tile floors.