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Pharmacy claims gentrification forced its move off State Street

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A locally-owned pharmacy is moving from its home of nearly 50 years, saying it's being forced out of the State Street area.

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Community Pharmacy has served customers on State Street since 1972.

"We're basically told that our landlords sold the property and that we have basically less than a year to figure out where we needed to move," Community Pharmacy Co-op member, Issy Bilek said.

The pharmacy blames the gentrification of State Street.

"The businesses can't really afford to pay for downtown locations, or those downtown locations are now being taken from them. So our location isn't going to exist after we move out of here," Bilek said. "And what we've seen prioritized instead, are these much more expensive apartment buildings and restaurants and bars. It's easier for them to make quick cash and turnover to stay here, as opposed to local businesses."

The City of Madison Planning Director Heather Stouder responded to the claim, telling 27 News in an emailed statement:

"There is always transition among downtown businesses as properties are sold, and in some cases redeveloped to support new housing or employment options. Community Pharmacy has been a steadfast presence in the downtown area, and we know that they’ll be a very welcome addition in their new east-side location, where we hope they’ll develop strong roots and relationships within the neighborhood while also maintaining much of their existing customer base.”

Employees are remaining optimistic about their new move. Managing Pharmacist Aimee Speers believes it'll be good for business.

"We're going to be in a neighborhood rather than on busy State Street, and I look forward to getting to know new people," Speers said.

Community Pharmacy will continue to have its westside location in Middleton. The new location on the east side will be at 130 South Fair Oaks Avenue. Bilek explained they chose that spot because many of the employees live there.

"We were accessible to a lot of different people. And so we're really excited about moving there. We're making the best of like this situation in a lot of ways," Bilek said.

The local business will continue to serve the community by offering free delivery services. In return, asking customers to continue to support local businesses, so they can thrive in communities like downtown.

"I think my biggest thing with all of this is I just really want like people to support their cooperatives and to support sustainable labor. As a customer, it's really important to, if you can, to support businesses like us," Bilek said.

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Jada Hoffman

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