Century-old drug store to close doors

Michelle Rimel, owner of Peoples Drugstore in Strasburg, pulls a drug bottle off the shelf of her store Thursday. Rimel, the store's pharmacist, is selling the century old business to Rite-Aid, and the building’s owner has put the King Street store up for sale. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Peoples Drug Store, a Strasburg institution located at 145 E. King St., will be closing its doors at the end of the business day on Tuesday. The business has been sold to pharmacy giant Rite-Aid for an undisclosed amount.

Michelle Rimel has owned Peoples for the past 11 years and serves as pharmacist. She said that the process of selling and closing the business has been an emotional and difficult one.

“My husband and I did the pros and cons list and it was just a very difficult decision to make,” she said. “I have staff here that’s been here 45 years. Three of my staff have been here 25 plus years and the store’s been open 100 years. Since last Thursday, when we sent out a mailer (about the closing), people have been coming in and sharing their stories. It’s been a very emotional ride for us.”

Rimel said that a variety of factors contributed to the store’s closure.

“It’s not one reason,” she said. “There’s a multitude of reasons – a lot of variables that went into this very difficult decision. … It’s decreased (insurance company) reimbursements, increased drug costs, different fees that the insurances are putting on us that are new, overhead, location, just a multitude of reasons.”

Mary Miller organizes a line of cards on the shelves at Peoples Drug Store in Strasburg. Miller has worked at the store for 49 years. Rich Cooley/Daily

Rimel praised her customers and said that she thinks of them as an extension of her family.

“I have the best customer base,” she said. “They’re family to me and so I think that’s been the toughest part of it all. These people are my family, and we’ve been here for 100 years. We just celebrated 100 years in May. We were lucky to get there and without our customers we wouldn’t have been open as long as we have been.”

Employee Mary Miller has worked at Peoples for 49 years and said that staff is part of that family as well.

“We’re not related but we’re a family here,” she said.

Rimel said that difficulty in bringing in new customers also played a role in the drug store closing its doors. Moreover, attempts at expanding their offerings to accommodate new customers haven’t been economically viable, Rimel said.

“For us, our location, we’ve had a difficult time getting in new customers,” she said. “Our longtime customers have been faithful and great to us but getting new customers has been difficult and we don’t have a drive-thru. We’ve tried other things like immunizations and deliveries and we do things like that but there’s no sustainability.”

The building, which Rimel was renting, is up for sale by Randy Fansler.

Rimel and her staff will host an “appreciation celebration” with light refreshments and music by Richard Follett today.  Rimel said it will serve as a way for long-time employees and customers to reminisce about Peoples’ long run.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.