Wyoming Rexall Drug calls it a day in Warsaw | Featured story
WARSAW — After 61 years of serving the community, Wyoming Rexall Drug closed its doors for good on Wednesday.
Owned by Bill Follendorf, who is currently 91 and will be 92 in October, his daughter Gage Moran said it was time to close.
“It’s a bit too much for him,” she said. “He’s kind of old school…and all he knows how to do is work.”
Follendorf has worked since he was 13, when he got a job at Fisher’s Pharmacy in North Tonawanda, delivering prescriptions using the company’s van.
He then graduated from the University at Buffalo in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. He joined Peterson Drug in 1958, which became Wyoming Rexall Drug in 1961.
Moran said that at one time pharmacy was very profitable, but now the healthcare industry has changed. With insurance, she said sometimes you only make 25 cents on a prescription.
“Reimbursement just isn’t what it used to be,” Moran said. “With generics, if you’re a chain … you can get these good discounts on drugs and stuff. When you are independent and you have to go through wholesalers, you try to get the best generic, but it may not be what the insurance company wants.
Therefore, local pharmacies can lose money on some generics. There are also dollar stores in Warsaw, Moran said, so things they sold years ago, like Valentine’s Day cards, aren’t very profitable anymore either.
Moran, who is also a licensed pharmacist, had helped Follendorf keep the store open as long as possible with his loyal staff.
“It was very difficult (to decide to close),” she said. “I started working at the store when I was 13. I also worked elsewhere, but I came back all last year to help him. It’s hard. It’s an era. I grew up with it. It’s a bit bittersweet.
The best part of working over the years at Rexall has been the customers and the employees, and the ability to help someone, Moran said.
While Rexall will be closing, it has been purchased by Sinclair Pharmacy and anyone who has been to Rexall will be able to have their prescriptions filled at Sinclair. All prescription records and computer records from Rexall have been sent to Sinclair.
Jim Rutowski, owner of Sinclair Pharmacy, has been in Warsaw for 33 years. Sinclair’s Pharmacy has been in the area since the 1940s and Rutowski is a third generation owner on the property.
“The two stores have been side by side for 33 years,” he said. “We both tried to keep our clientele in the community and take care of anybody in the community, and just help support community efforts. We were competitors working together to help the community and meet their health care needs. »
When Rutowski started working in Warsaw in 1989, within the first hour Sinclair’s former owner sent him to meet Follendorf. Rutowski said Follendorf was very welcoming and cordial, and they developed a good relationship over the years.
“It was very sad to see the pharmacy close,” Rutowski said. “We thank Bill for his confidence in us to take care of the clients he serves. We will do our best to take care of his customers the same way he has always taken care of them.
Moran said Follendorf was diagnosed with COVID in May. Although it never entered his lungs, Follendorf is currently undergoing short-term rehabilitation.
As for the property itself, Rutowski said another retail business was looking to set up shop there, though he didn’t give much more information than that.
Wyoming Rexall Drug has long been a main street mainstay in Warsaw. The building’s distinctive exterior remained essentially unchanged over the decades and was easily recognizable by passers-by.
The store’s interior suffered severe damage in a fire in February 2005, but the location reopened five months later after an extensive renovation. He received a warm welcome from the locals.
The store is the second pillar of the village to close in a month. DiSalvo’s pizzeria closed May 24 after 50 years at its West Buffalo Street location.