Nfld. & Labrador

Healy's Pharmacy closing down after 50 years serving St. John's

A well-known independent pharmacy is closing up after decades of serving the St. John's area.

A well-known independent pharmacy is closing up after decades of serving the St. John's area.

After being in business since 1965, Healy's Pharmacy in St. John's is shutting down. (Jill Kelly)

Healy's Pharmacy has been in operation for 50 years, and brothers Brian and Tom Healy have finally decided they are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives.

"Thanks to [my wife] and my three kids I lasted this long I guess," Brian Healy told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show on Thursday.

"I always used to say to her, '25 years and I'm out of here'. She's been reminding me over the past 25 years, 'have you ever looked at a calendar lately.' "

Healy said they've had several offers over the years to buy their customer list, but a recent one came at just the right time.

"We've sat down with the people from Dominion here in town [on] Blackmarsh Road, and they certainly were quite capable and willing to look after the patients as good as we ever did — and probably a lot better," he said.

"The younger staff seem to be a lot more energetic than we ever were."

Five decades and a changing industry

He said things have changed considerably since he started up the pharmacy in 1965.

"When I started that store, the joke was in those days, if you wanted to start a pharmacy you needed a broom, a cash register and a couple of dollars in your pocket," he said.

"A lot of the stuff you made yourself, the ointments and suppositories and everything else, but we moved on from all of that."

To get in the game now, he said, a business would need about $40,000 worth of computers, and a much more comprehensive knowledge of medications that are on the market.

"We had 300 drugs in the dispensary. Today we have 2,400 to 3,000 — so it's increased a bit."

He's also seen a change in the types of medical conditions customers come to them with, but generally he thinks people are healthier than ever.

"We have certainly seen an increase in the amount of diabetes," he said.

"But over the years I've seen people live longer — we're now looking at third generations of some of the customers we had, and even great-grandchildren in some cases."

As the two brothers get ready to move on to the next phase of their lives, Healy has advice for anyone looking to start their own independent pharmacy.

"You can do it, but you have to be willing to work," he said. 

"You have to be totally loyal to your customers, which we have been over the years."

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