Since the announcement in February of an Albertsons/Rite Aid merger, several Santa Clarita Valley residents have resorted to social media to express their concern about the fate of Thrifty Ice Cream sold at Rite Aid.
One man posted on Facebook: “Don’t make any changes and keep the El Monte site churning out that ice cream.”
On Feb. 20, Albertsons issued a news release that reads: “Albertsons Companies, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers, and Rite Aid Corporation, one of the nation’s leading drugstore chains, announced a definitive merger agreement under which privately held Albertsons Companies will merge with publicly traded Rite Aid.”
The announcement explained common stock, percentages and shareholders shares. Rite Aid issued a similar news release.
What they didn’t share at that time was the fate of the “affordable” and “tasty” ice cream sold at Rite Aid.
Albertsons, according to the news release, crunched numbers.The integrated company will operate approximately 4,900 locations, 4,350 pharmacy counters, and 320 clinics across 38 states and Washington, D.C., serving more than 40 million customers per week. Most Albertsons Companies pharmacies will be rebranded as Rite Aid, and the company will continue to operate Rite Aid stand-alone pharmacies.
No details, however, were disclosed about the fate of Thrifty Ice Cream, a fixture for many Rite Aid patrons over generations.
“I hope very much that they keep it,” Christine Foster told The Signal on Monday.
“I was raised out here and I raised my son, as a single mom, out here,” she said. “When he had his friends over, I would take them to Thrifty’s for ice cream. They were as happy as could be.
“It became a ritual and a tradition,” Foster said. “Whether it’s chocolate chip, butter pecan or raspberry sherbet, I’d go to Thrifty’s.”
Reached by phone Monday at the Thrifty Ice Cream plant in El Monte, a representative referred all calls to the Rite Aid corporate office, which was closed Memorial Day.
Thrifty Ice Cream counters in Rite Aid stores sell hand-scooped ice cream in single, double or triple-scoop servings on sugar, cake or cones.
Like many drug stores a century ago, it boasted having an in-store grill and soda fountain. When it started out, the company bought ice cream from local suppliers. But, as it grew across Los Angeles County and tried to match the demand, company owners decided to produce their own ice cream in 1940.
In 1976, the company plant moved into its larger, 20,000-square-foot present plant in El Monte. By 2010, it was producing ice cream for close to 600 Rite Aid stores in California.