Beloved landmark Richmond pharmacy to close doors

Updated: Jul. 27, 2019 at 11:24 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A beloved Richmond institution is closing at the end of August.

Grove Avenue Pharmacy has operated in its current spot on 4911 Grove Avenue for 73 years.

The store’s owner and second-generation pharmacist, Bill Towler, says the people they serve are much more than customers. In these last few weeks, Towler’s having to say goodbye to friends he has helped for decades.

The family-owned pharmacy was once surrounded by fields. When customers walked into the store, a seven-seat soda fountain was on the left, and comic book stand stood on the right.

“We remember very colorful people, very interesting folks... and we’ve been privileged to be part of their lives,” said Towler.

Towler’s father bought Grove Avenue Pharmacy in 1983. Before that in the 1910′s, the pharmacy began under a different name in a single house across from a hospital in downtown Richmond.

“A date of 3/27/1926,” said Towler, reading a prescription box that dates back 93 years. “The doctor’s name is Willis, and I’m assuming it’s the Johnston-Willis doctor that Johnston-Willis Hospital was named after.”

The pharmacy moved to Grove Avenue in 1946 and has been there ever since.

A wall is covered with pictures of customers who have become more like family to Towler.

“They consider us part of their family,, and so we do care a great deal about them,” he said.

But the hardships of modern day healthcare in the U.S. and competition with bigger chains have essentially put this independent pharmacy out of business.

“Healthcare in general has been fairly toxic for small business, community-owned businesses,” said Towler.

Regulars at Grove Avenue are also feeling the loss, as the closing day of August 21st nears.

Grove Avenue Pharmacy is certainly taking a full stock of history with it.

“Many (customers) are very sad emotionally, as we are sad. But that family connection... It’s very important to us and that’s why we’ve hung on so long," said Towler.

CVS will take over Grove Avenue Pharmacy, transferring patient files to its Broad Street location.

All current Grove Avenue Pharmacy employees, including the Towler, will get the opportunity to be hired by CVS.

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