Peterson's Pharmacy was among the first stores to open in 1929, the year the Medical Arts Building on the 700 block of Lake Street was built, and not a lot has changed with the independently run store since its inception.
But the store will close its doors for the last time on July 21, according to its current owner Bill Elich, 68, and it's uncertain what will take its place.
Elich, who purchased the store in 1990, said he is retiring from running the store largely because of insurance companies paying less for prescriptions and customers turning more often to the Internet for their prescription drugs.
"The insurance companies make it impossible to try to stay in business because there's no profit in it anymore, and people have to go to mail order; people buy everything online, so brick-and-mortar pharmacies are a thing of the past," Elich said. "I always tell people I can beat Walgreen's on price and service and everything else, but I can't beat the mail-order."
He said that part of the loss in profit is fewer people paying out of pocket and more coming in with insurance coverage.
"People order online and the big insurance companies tell people they can maybe get a 30-day supply from me, but if they want to pay less money, they have to get it from the mailman. So the mailman beat me, basically."
He said that recently a customer wanted to transfer a prescription over to his store, "but it would have cost me $3,500 to buy the drug, and the insurance company was going to pay me $3,505."
"I would have made a five-dollar profit on a $3,500 prescription," he said. "You can't make money that way. It used to not work that way. It used to be more reasonable what they were paying."
Elich noted that he sold his inventory and customer files to Walgreen's. Peterson's is having a going-out-of-business sale on Friday, July 17, Elich said.
Elich said he plans to continue living in Elmwood Park, noting that he'll still be around town.
"I've made a lot of good friends over the years, and I'm going to miss my customers," he said.
There are no plans for a new tenant at the store, according to Jack Sheehan, co-owner of the Medical Arts Building.
He his Realtor has just begun marketing the storefront, which is just shy of 1,200 square feet.
"It's a good size for a nice little shop," he said.
The building still is populated largely by medical-type businesses, with an eye surgeon, an eye glass shop and a dentist, according to Sheehan.
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