- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Charles Reynolds has been a pharmacist in downtown Leonardtown for “34 years and three months.” But Monday, Reynolds Pharmacy is set to close for good.
Reynolds said he lost his contract with a major supplier last summer, and since then, he has been forced to deal with smaller suppliers who couldn’t get him everything customers wanted to see stocked on the shelves. “The large wholesalers want people who do a lot of business,” Reynolds said. They wanted him to guarantee purchasing about $50,000 a month in goods. “I wasn’t doing enough.”
Between August and December, he said, the store lost about $2,500 a month.
On Wednesday evening, a few faithful customers came by. Walls were covered with wood paneling. There were used crutches, which looked brand new, stored in a box that said “$2.00.” Greeting cards, reading glasses, poison ivy medicine, a wood-framed mirror and hacky sack balls were among aisles and shelves full of markdowns.
There were no lines. No self-checkout registers. Customers just walked right up to the counter and started talking to Reynolds as though they were continuing a conversation that had been put on hold a minute or two before.
“Make sure you eat breakfast in the morning,” Reynolds said during a five-minute conversation with Charles Johnson. “Eat a light meal.”
“I like a person like him. He gives you a lot of information — almost like a doctor,” said Johnson, of Hollywood. “I could just come in here and talk to him about anything.”
When asked how many years he’d been coming by the pharmacy, on Washington Street just off the square, Johnson said, “My God. A long time. Twenty years ... I guess I’d say 24 years.” After talking more, he guessed 27.
Reynolds has caught a couple of medications that shouldn’t have been taken together, that Johnson says he was prescribed. The two have talked about vacations to West Virginia, or camping trips in Virginia. They talked about church and family.
“Other ones, they want to just wait on ya and get rid of ya,” Johnson said. “I’m going to miss ’em. I’ll tell ya that.”
Reynolds said he decided he’d like to be a pharmacist in the ninth grade during a vocation program. Teachers told students to look through books and find something they might be interested in. “And it looked like pharmacy was pretty interesting,” he said. “I liked chemistry. Also, just meeting people.
“Plus, it’s air-conditioned in the summer and it’s heated in the winter,” he said. “You laugh, but my very first job was spreading top soil.”
He studied at the University of Maryland in the early 1970s, and moved to St. Mary’s County from Prince George’s County, buying the store, he said, on Dec. 31, 1979.
He’s seen the county become “more crowded,” he said. He’s seen the growing dependence on and abuse of prescription drugs change the industry.
“All of a sudden, we have this problem in our society where people don’t want to deal with their problems,” Reynolds said. “They just want to escape it ... You just have to make sure the people who need the medicine get it and the ones who don’t, don’t.”
He’s seen his first customers come in young and vibrant, and he’s seen them decline over the years. Their children start coming in to pick up the medicines. Then the grandchildren come in to get the prescriptions because the parents have become caregivers and often can’t get away. And he’s gone to plenty of visitations after longtime customers have died.
“The real important thing is the friendships,” said Susan Reynolds, wife, “PR Lady” and pharmacy tech. “People bring us crab cakes,” she said. Another customer just brought her fresh eggs. They gather with friends for dinner parties and church.
But long after 6 p.m., once the store was closed, Susan Reynolds said 34 years as shop owners has been long enough.
“I would like to travel some.” Maybe take a tour of the Grand Canyon. Visit her son in New Jersey, she said. “And, have some free time.”