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(UPDATE: On September 9th, Fred’s filed for bankruptcy and announced that liquidation sales would begin immediately at the rest of its stores, all of which are expected to close within the next 60 days. “Despite our team’s best efforts, we were not able to avoid this outcome,” CEO Joe Anto said in a statement.)

For decades, Fred’s was a general merchandise chain largely unknown outside the rural South. But for a brief period of time a couple of years ago, Fred’s was poised to transform itself into one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country.

If Fred’s stores didn’t start sprouting up in your area, though, that’s because that never happened. Instead, Fred’s is returning to its roots as a rural general merchandise store – and if that doesn’t work, the floundering chain may be finished.

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On Friday, Fred’s announced yet another round of store closings, together with an effort to reimagine the few stores it has left. Just a few months ago, the financially-troubled Memphis-based retailer had nearly 600 stores in 15 southeastern states. When the latest string of store closings Is complete, Fred’s will have a mere 80 stores in eight states (in the interest of brevity, rather than listing all of the store closings, the list of stores that will actually remain open is below).

In the closing stores – and even in the stores that will remain open – Fred’s says it will hold clearance sales “in an effort to refocus its product mix, simplify its store portfolio and repay debt.” It’s all part of Fred’s efforts to introduce “a new operating model, with an updated assortment.”

“We are pleased to present our loyal customers the unique and compelling opportunity to purchase heavily discounted items for a limited time,” CEO Joe Anto said in a statement. “We encourage shoppers to take advantage of these unmatched deals, and stock up on items that may be permanently removed from Fred’s shelves, come August.”

Fred’s offered no further details about exactly what its new-look stores will look like. But the changes come as Fred’s emphasizes its “unique value-priced shopping opportunities” and de-emphasizes its dwindling pharmacy business. Fred’s has already sold its specialty pharmacy business to CVS, it’s sold nearly 200 of its other pharmacies to Walgreens and is looking to sell the rest. It even recently changed its store logo from “Fred’s Pharmacy” to one that simply reads “Fred’s” in old-timey script with a reference to its 1947 founding.

That’s a far cry from just a few years ago, when the chain started turning away from its previous incarnation as “Fred’s Super Dollar” in order to position itself as a pharmacy chain. All the better to acquire more than 800 Rite Aid stores in a deal announced in late 2016, which would more than double Fred’s store count and turn it into a national drug store powerhouse overnight.

Except that deal fell apart after Walgreens abandoned its attempt to buy Rite Aid, and no longer had to sell off those 800+ Rite Aid stores in order to satisfy antitrust concerns. And then Fred’s optimistic outlook for its future started to sour.

By that time, New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital had become Fred’s largest shareholder. Having missed out on the chance to benefit from the scuttled Rite Aid deal, it took control of Fred’s, installing a new CEO and trying to increase profits by cutting costs, selling assets and streamlining the business.

But that hasn’t gone so well. Cash-flow problems caused shelves to go unstocked, which helped drive customers away, which led to store closures. The chain-reaction downward spiral has reached the point that Fred’s barely has any stores left.

And now what could have been a 1,400-store national drug store chain has become an 80-store small-town discounter, with unspecified plans for “an updated assortment” and “a new operating model.” So now’s your chance to “stock up on items that may be permanently removed from Fred’s shelves” – as Fred’s tries to keep itself from being permanently removed from the retail landscape for good.

    FRED’S STORES REMAINING OPEN:

ADDRESS CITY STATE
24 CAMDEN BYPASS CAMDEN AL
19580 N 3RD ST CITRONELLE AL
21665 HWY 25 COLUMBIANA AL
17916 HWY 280 DADEVILLE AL
505 US-80 DEMOPOLIS AL
206 GREENSBORO AVE EUTAW AL
320 BELLEVILLE STREET EVERGREEN AL
804 CLEVELAND ST HEADLAND AL
731 ROSS ST HEFLIN AL
47950 US 78 LINCOLN AL
50 TALLADEGA ST LINEVILLE AL
720 N WASHINGTON ST LIVINGSTON AL
821 SOUTH FOREST AVE LUVERNE AL
165 BESSEMER SUPER MIDFIELD AL
4559 HWY 25 MONTEVALLO AL
1001 CROSSROADS PLAZA DR MOODY AL
505 NORTH MAIN OPP AL
3920 US-80 PHENIX CITY AL
110 SUTTON SQUARE RAINBOW CITY AL
160 WEST MAIN ST RAINSVILLE AL
213 PARK DRIVE WARRIOR AL
5132 JOE FRANK HARRIS PKWY ADAIRSVILLE GA
316 EAST WASHINGTON ASHBURN GA
3764 EAST HWY 84 BLACKSHEAR GA
200 E LOUISE ST CLARKSVILLE GA
413 N DUVAL CLAXTON GA
1900 AUBURN AVE COLUMBUS GA
185 S ELM ST COMMERCE GA
101 NORTH WEBSTER STREET CUTHBERT GA
839 FORRESTER DRIVE DAWSON GA
409 WEST 3RD ST DONALSONVILLE GA
705 US-80 EAST DUBLIN GA
103 FOURTH AVE EASTMAN GA
726 SR-144 GLENNVILLE GA
106 BILL CONNECTOR PKW GRAY GA
525 BROAD STREET HAWKINSVILLE GA
2872 TOBACCO RD HEPHZIBAH GA
369 S CHURCH ST HOMERVILLE GA
307 W PATTON ST LAFAYETTE GA
265 LAKES BLVD LAKE PARK GA
512 S VALDOSTA RD LAKELAND GA
11747 AUGUSTA BLVD LAVONIA GA
1705 PHILAMENA RD SOUTH LEESBURG GA
978 E BROAD ST METTER GA
506 NORTH HIGHWAY 25 MILLEN GA
506 SPAULDING RD MONTEZUMA GA
601 S MASON ST MOUNT VERNON GA
139 WEST BRAZELL ST REIDSVILLE GA
604 NORTHSIDE DR WEST STATESBORO GA
518 WEST OGEECHEE ST SYLVANIA GA
12596 N MAIN ST TRENTON GA
1310 WEST MORTON OAKLAND CITY IN
708 WASHINGTON ST FRANKLINTON LA
200 NORTH ELM ST HAUGHTON LA
2866 BIENVILLE HWY RINGGOLD LA
475 HWY 6 EAST BATESVILLE MS
504 NORTH 2ND STREET BOONEVILLE MS
15 EAST STONEWALL RD BYHALIA MS
340 SR-12 KOSCIUSKO MS
5186 HIGHWAY 80 EAST MORTON MS
7122 WILL ROBBINS HWY NETTLETON MS
7105 COCKRUM STREET OLIVE BRANCH MS
170 HIGHWAY 15 NORTH PONTOTOC MS
706 CITY AVE NORTH RIPLEY MS
250 HWY 19 SOUTH BRYSON CITY NC
677 US 19 BURNSVILLE NC
70 NEW CLYDE HWY CANTON NC
1346 NORWOOD ST SW LENOIR NC
3606 MAIN ST BAMBERG SC
401 S ALABAMA AVE CHESNEE SC
2544 HWY 25 SOUTH GREENWOOD SC
518 E GREER ST HONEA PATH SC
198 STUCKEY ST JOHNSONVILLE SC
480 NELSON BLVD KINGSTREE SC
437 NORTH MAIN ST SALUDA SC
181 WEST CAROLINA AVE VARNVILLE SC
9810 HWY 57 SOUTH COUNCE TN
8487 SR-22 DRESDEN TN
829 W MAIN ST MONTEAGLE TN
100 PIONEER VILLAGE DR MOUNTAIN CITY TN

Image source: Fred’s

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