Pharmacy News: December, 9

City Council Approves Rezoning for Pharmacy

A blow to some homeowners in East Lansing fighting the construction of a CVS pharmacy in their neighborhood.

After a three hour public hearing last night, city council members voted in favor of rezoning so that the pharmacy can be built.

Homeowners near Coolidge and Lake Lansing are against the city tearing down an empty building that was last used by Blue Cross Blue Shield two years ago, and turning it into a pharmacy.

They say they’re concerned about the extra traffic to the area once the pharmacy opens.

The vote to rezone the building passed three to zero.

Woman charged in pharmacy holdup

A Halton Hills woman has been arrested and charged with a gunpoint robbery at a Brampton pharmacy.
Debbie Meaniss, 35, has been charged with one count each of robbery and wearing a disguise in connection with the February 8 holdup at Conestoga Pharmacy.
Peel Regional Police obtained an arrest warrant for Meaniss on Sept. 29, and she was arrested by Hamilton police Saturday.
Police say a heavyset woman with a gun approached two female employees at the Bovaird Drive pharmacy and demanded drugs. She escaped with approximately $1,000 worth of narcotics.
No shots were fired and one was injured, according to police.
• • •
Halton Police are investigating the theft of two fully loaded trailers from Truck Town Terminals on Steeles Ave. Saturday evening.
One of the trailers was full of industrial water heaters and the other one cans of Beefaroni. Police did not have an estimate of the value.
The trailers are 53 ft., light blue, and stolen from a compound between 8:45 and 8:55 p.m.

Closing of Forer Pharmacy Inspires Reflections on State of Local Businesses

The last independently owned and operated pharmacy in Princeton closed quietly last week, with the awning reading “Forer Pharmacy” removed by the next day. A sign in the window explained that it had been sold to the national pharmacy chain CVS.

While the circumstances of the closing of Forer do not fit with the usual pattern of big box or national chains crowding out smaller independently-run operations with limited resources, the closure of another independent business highlighted the struggle faced by local merchants, particularly retailers.

Clothier Nick Hilton, who owns and operates Nick Hilton Princeton on Witherspoon Street, and is also the founder of the independent merchant organization Hometown Princeton, explained that business owners are “really concerned with preserving the special nature of the Princeton community, and making it more appealing.”

“We’re all looking out for our businesses, but there is a certain ecological and environmental sensitivity to [the Buy Local movement] too,” Mr. Hilton suggested, emphasizing that “local independents are unique kinds of retailers. Take Forer Pharmacy. It was near the hospital and people could go there directly to have their prescriptions filled.”

The personalized aspects of local independent businesses, and the friendships that develop around them, are something that larger, more impersonal national chains can’t provide, according to Mr. Hilton.

In selling the business he and his twin brother Ira have operated over the past four decades, Mel Atlas of Forer Pharmacy said that the most difficult part of parting with the store is “giving up all the relationships you’ve built up over 40 years.”

Describing saying goodbye to his customers as “heart-wrenching,” Mr. Atlas said that in the last days Forer Pharmacy was open many clients stopped by. “There were a lot of tears and a lot of hugs. We’ve had customers for 30, 35, 40 years.”

Mr. Atlas acknowledged that CVS Pharmacy had approached the brothers in the past to inquire about purchasing the business. “We had many other potential buyers as well, and we felt that we wanted to end our era of association with the pharmacy.

“Forty years is enough time to put into any business. It’s been hard over the past year or two to come to the decision [to sell]. Business was still good, and we could have stayed …. Still, standing on your feet all day is tiring, and enough is enough. It was time to give it up,” Mr. Atlas conceded.

While the business was sold to CVS, the building remains in the possession of Mel and Ira Atlas. “There’s not a lot of certainty when it comes to that,” Mel Atlas said as to whether he was planning to sell or rent the building, though he admitted that his current inclination is to sell it “unless I got somebody to lease it and I knew that they would be an ongoing business.”

Currently, they are in the process of “weighing the decisions,” with Mr. Atlas commenting that they were in no rush, though he expected conclusions to be reached within the next three to six months.

The two brothers’ relationship with Forer Pharmacy began just prior to 1970, when Ira worked for the original owner, Marv Forer. About six months after Ira left his job there, he got a call from Mr. Forer saying that he was interested in selling the store. The brothers finalized the deal and within six months had also purchased the building, Mel said.

Though the closure is bittersweet, Mel Atlas admitted that “all good things come to an end, and it was time. I know it was the right time to do it.”

Mr. Hilton is hoping that community support for local independent businesses remains strong and grows stronger. “We have worked really hard to convince people they can find what they need in town … we don’t compete with local people, we compete with chains and internet stores.”

“If I want something special, unique and different, I go to those kinds of [independent] stores. That’s what we’re fighting to keep alive,” he added.

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