A longtime Richland pharmacy sold its last prescription Thursday.
Densow’s, at 1011 Wright Ave., closed its pharmacy department because of the poor reimbursements from insurance companies, said Jon Reynolds, whose family bought the now 66-year-old store in 2011.
He blames the problem on a lack of competition since the 2012 merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, creating the country’s largest pharmacy benefit management organization.
Densow’s has nearly tripled the number of prescriptions it fills since 2011, but that hasn’t helped since they now lose money on prescriptions, Reynolds said.
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“Volume just digs a bigger hole faster,” he said.
The store will still sell medical supplies, as well as gifts, antiques, furniture, cards and trampolines, Reynolds said. He has made a point of diversifying its products since buying the store.
“We are larger than any medical supply store in Richland, and we will continue to do that,” he said.
But closing the pharmacy counter that has remained unchanged for more than six decades is emotional for people, and Reynolds said it is tough for him, as well.
He sent a letter to customers to let them know about the closure. In it, he recalls the days when he walked from his home on Birch Street as a child to buy candy and toys, and says the pharmacy filled his family’s prescriptions for decades.
Three employees, plus Reynolds, will lose their jobs because of the cutbacks, leaving the store with seven workers. Reynolds will not work in the medical supply area because it is under separate management, even though he owns the business.
“I’ll have to go find a job somewhere,” he said.
The pharmacy was rare because it offered drugs in bubble packs and offered delivery service, Reynolds said.
“We like to think we were the fastest pharmacy in town,” he said.
Densow’s customers will have their prescriptions transferred to the Rite Aid at 1329 Lee Blvd.
Richard Miller, 71, has been going to Densow’s off and on since he was a child. He got his first job cleaning out the stainless steel ice cream equipment in the store’s soda fountain when he was 14.
“It’s just been a neighborhood pharmacy,” said Miller, who still lives in the neighborhood. “You go in there and get whatever you need.”
Now homebound and connected to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day, he needs Densow’s more than ever because it delivers to his home. He is thankful the pharmacy helped him find another delivery service so that he doesn’t have to make Dial-A-Ride appointments in advance.
“If it wasn’t for Densow’s and their delivery system, I would have been up a creek,” he said.