Thrifty Payless, Inc. requests approval for Bi-Mart Store in Washington

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Thrifty PayLess, Inc. (formerly TCH Corporation) and Green Equity Investors, L.P. have requested Federal Trade Commission approval to divest the pharmacy business of the Bi-Mart store in Ellensburg, Washington, to Fred McGinnis. The application will be subject to public comment for 30 days until October 12.

McGinnis has been a licensed pharmacist since earning his B.S. degree in pharmacy 24 years ago. He owns and operates several pharmacies in Spokane County, Washington, none of which are in Ellensburg. He plans to operate the pharmacy in the Bi- Mart store located at 608 East Mountain View, in Ellensburg.

Prior FTC approval of the divestiture is required under a 1994 Commission order settling FTC charges surrounding the $1.16 billion acquisition by TCH Corporation, the owner of the Thrifty and Bi-Mart drug-store chains, of the PayLess drug-store chain from the Kmart Corporation. The Commission alleged that the acquisition could increase the likelihood of higher prices for prescription drugs in retail outlets in six localities, four in California and one each in Oregon and Washington state.

Under the 1994 consent order, TCH is required to divest the pharmacy business in either the PayLess, Thrifty, or Bi-Mart drug store in each of the six localities: Fort Bragg, Bishop, Mt. Shasta and Taft, California; Florence, Oregon; and Ellensburg, Washington. This is the final divestiture application the FTC has received in this matter. (Five other applications, for Taft, Bishop, Mt. Shasta, and Ft. Bragg, California, and Florence, Oregon, were announced for public comment on Aug. 21, 28 Sept. 8 and Sept. 13 respectively.)

In its application to the FTC for approval of the divesti- ture, TCH states that "Mr. McGinnis has demonstrated his ability to successfully operate a pharmacy...[and] the ability to fully restore the alleged lessening of competition in Ellensburg resulting from the acquisition...."

Comments on the application should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

Copies of the application and other documents associated with this case are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov

(FTC Docket No. C-3519)

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