CLEARFIELD – After 41 years of serving the community, Clearfield Pharmacy is closing.
Just last week, the business notified its patrons that it has been sold to the Rite Aid Pharmacy chain.
Residents of Clearfield, saddened by the loss of not only a locally owned-pharmacy, but a popular gift shop took to social media to thank Clearfield Pharmacy for its many years of service.
“It won’t be Christmas without you!” said one customer, referring the wonderful Christmas items and room full of Christmas gifts that was set up each year.
Many especially thanked pharmacists Ken Bodle and Brenda Weber as well as owner Joe DellAntonio.
Kathy Blowers Lamoreau had a more personal response to the news.
“I’ve come to think of you all as friends over the years. You all, the feeling you get from going into the store and seeing friends, buying beautiful gifts, the personal help and advice from the pharmacy staff, help in picking out gifts, the personal conversations and personal touch, will be missed more than you know.
“Thank you all for being there with me through all my highs and lows over the years. You will be missed.”
As people expressed their gratitude to the business, thoughts quickly turned to the employees and what would become of them.
It turns out this was one of DellAntonio’s concerns as well.
He explained in a recent interview that he had been thinking about selling for two years and he specifically looked for an independent pharmacy “so it could continue as it is.”
There were opportunities to sell to bigger companies, but they would just close the store leaving another empty store front in town and his employees without jobs. So, he kept waiting for the right opportunity.
Rite Aid had been trying to find a replacement for its store on the Clearfield-Curwensville Highway so it made sense to purchase Clearfield Pharmacy with a new building at a prime location.
They offered employment to all the current employees, he said with about half of them choosing to stay on with the new store.
“His (DellAntonio) main goal was that the employees would be taken care of,” said Beverly Schickling, corporate secretary and administrator of Clearfield Pharmacy.
She explained that she has always “been excited” to be part of a pharmacy with gifts and cards, making it a “one stop shop.”
“You could always find something unique” in the gift shop.
Clearfield Pharmacy started in 1980 at the Medical Arts Building on Turnpike Avenue. In December of 1987, DellAntonio bought the old Cowdrick’s Pharmacy on Market Street and for a few years operated a pharmacy at both locations.
Eventually he started looking for room to expand because it was difficult for older people to find parking and just walk in.
In 2002, he bought the lot at the corner of Market and Third Streets for a new building, which opened in May of 2003.
The parking lot and drive-thru option “made it so much better”, Schickling said. With the additional space, they were also able to expand the gift shop.
Over the years, DellAntonio had other businesses serving the community including other health-related services and the restaurant, Moena, which he sold in 2015.
Looking back, DellAntonio is grateful to the community that was always “really supportive of me” beginning at the Medical Arts Building store.
He is grateful for his loyal employees including Schickling, who has been with him for 37 years, and for the pharmacists, Bodle and Weber, who have been there 35 years.
“Customers knew them,” and a great relationship formed with the customers, he stated. “That is what made Clearfield Pharmacy successful.”
Clearfield Pharmacy will close its doors on Friday, June 25 and reopen as Rite Aid on June 28. All of the prescriptions of the current customers will be transferred to Rite Aid’s system.
Schickling became emotional thinking about the years and the people they have served.
“We want to thank all of our customers who have shopped here and supported the pharmacy.”