(Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)
(Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)

BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
egebert@timesbulletin.com

Van Wert's last locally-owned pharmacy will soon be gone. Derry Drugs will be closing Dec. 17.

"We have reached an agreement to basically sell our files and our business to CVS on the 17th," said Derry Drugs owner Paul Svabik. "This has been a long process and a hard process at the same time. Telling the employees, that was the most difficult part of it."

Derry Drugs opened for business when Bill Derry opened the doors in 1953.

"Sixty years of business speaks highly. You just don't see that much anymore," Svabik remarked.

Svabik went on to say that he came to Van Wert from Michigan in 1985. At that time, there were nine pharmacies doing business in the county, and seemingly all of them were doing good business.

"Through the years, we went from nine to three today in 27 years." he related. "We are the last ones to remain in business. Walmart was not here and the CVS store was Revco, but Revco went bankrupt and CVS bought them up. We were out of those nine, the only one left out of them. There are a lot of complexities in this business. Plus we are not competing against our neighbors anymore. There are some good business people in Van Wert, but those competitors are long gone. Now there CVS and Walmart; those are multi-billion-dollar corporations."

Pharmacy customers of Derry Drugs will have their file and records taken to CVS Pharmacy. Svabik, Mike Krugh, and a few others from the Derry staff will move to the Ervin Rd. location.

The reason for the move, according to Svabik, is not an easy one to explain.

"There is no one real reason," he insisted. "We weren't a sinking ship by any means. We still had a viable business, but at the same time there were multiple factors that have affected us and continue to make it harder."

Among the reasons cited by Svabik include the uncertainty for the future of healthcare providers, the increasing volume of mail order pharmacy business, the need to carry bigger volumes to meet price points, and the complications of reimbursement issues.

Svabik commented, "Ours is certainly a different case than other business closings we may have recently experienced in Van Wert."

Over the past couple of months, Svabik said he has been focused on the transition for patients and the possibilities for the employees, but he will soon do some work about the future of the Derry Drugs building at 1191 Westwood. He did confirm that the building will be put up for sale, but no further thought has yet been given to the facility. At this point, the transfer of patient information is a high priority to ensure that customers will be able to walk into CVS on Dec. 17 and be able to obtain the same service.

An uncertain future is all that is known about the Front Porch Gifts section of Derry Drugs. Svabik stated that he is looking to see if anyone is interested in the store that has been an important part of the business for many years.

Store founder Bill Derry retired from the business at the end of 1989, but many people have worked at the store and have been an important part of the service given to Derry customer. With Svabik and Krugh heading down to CVS, others may follow as well. Some may elect to come along while others may choose to call it quits. Svabik, who at the leading of Derry himself, has become very involved in the community. He said he has been speaking with some of the higher-ups at CVS about increasing that company's community involvement.

But the Derry name that has been a part of retail Van Wert for the past six decades will cease to operate in less than three weeks. Still, Svabik is grateful for the past years and the people who have been a part of the life of Derry Drugs.

"We've been given an awful lot by our customer," he said. "We're thankful for that."