Roland Park’s Tuxedo Pharmacy to close down in early January after 82 years

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Photo by Ethan McLeod

Tuxedo Pharmacy on Roland Avenue has been serving customers from around Baltimore since 1936. Harold Davidov, 79, and his brother, Arnold, have spent their lives there, even growing up in the apartments located above the storefront.

On Jan. 8, they’ll be closing up shop after just over 82 years in business.

“We’ve had a very successful community pharmacy,” Harold told Baltimore Fishbowl Friday morning. “I’ve been in the business for 55 years,” he added with a laugh. “The business has been very good to us, we worked hard… This has not been a burden. I’ve loved every minute. We’ve had great relationships with customers.”

He cited a mix of reasons for shuttering the family business, chief among them falling reimbursements from insurance companies, which have hit independent pharmacies particularly hard. “Our profitability has suffered tremendously over the past couple years.”

Other factors include the growth of online retail and mail-order pharmacies in recent years and, Harold said, the perceived “hazard” of the much-fussed-over Roland Avenue Cycle Track out front, which he said made it “more ominous for older people to park their cars and get to the store.”

Harold and Arnold’s parents, Louis and Betty Davidov, bought the store during the Great Depression, and raised their three children in the apartments above, as chronicled by Kathy Hudson in Roland Park’s neighborhood newsletter in 2012. Theirs was among the only Jewish-owned and –operated businesses in North Baltimore at the time.

Harold and Arnold took over in the mid-1970s, according to a brief history on Tuxedo Pharmacy’s website, and at one point had a second location at Johns Hopkins at Greenspring Station, which is now the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Pharmacy.

The original store on Roland Avenue has remained a local fixture in the decades since, thanks in no small part to a loyal customer base. In addition to dispensing drugs, Tuxedo Pharmacy sells toiletries, cosmetics, assorted household items and gifts.

Harold said CVS has purchased their patient files and is transferring all of them to the health care behemoth’s store at 4625 Falls Road. The company has also agreed to hire Tuxedo’s five staffers, which he said should maintain some familiarity between their customers and the people mixing and dispensing their drugs. Customers will be receiving notices about their accounts today, more than a week ahead of the planned closure.

“We tried to do the right thing by everybody. We just have a very strong sense of community. We just didn’t want to move out in the middle of the night, and we’re not going anywhere.”

The Davidovs still own the property, he pointed out, and they will work on “getting a good neighbor coming in here” as the new tenant. They’re planning to lease the space out, rather than sell it.

Harold nodded to the recent closures of other longtime businesses around Baltimore—the latest being Greetings & Readings in Hunt Valley, which announced its plans to shut down soon just yesterday.

“We’re not an island,” he said. “We were trying to do everything right, and you still can’t. Times change and you change with the times as long as you can, and then you’ve got to find something else to do.”

The career pharmacy operator added: “I think to have had a business going for 82 years is a tremendous accomplishment that we feel very good about. Nothing lasts forever.”

Ethan McLeod
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  1. Such a wonderful business. It’s sad to see them go.

    And the bike lane lovers should understand how their selfish politics has consequences. If anyone used the bike lanes, I might understand the tradeoff but we’ve made life more difficult for the old people who need medical care, all for an occasional cyclist who often doesn’t use the lane anyway.

  2. Sorry, but it’s ridiculous to blame the cycletrack. Independent businesses of all kinds, from bookstores to five-and-dimes to pharmacies, have been closing all across the country for years now, gobbled up by corporate conglomerates. The blame lies with unfettered, rapacious capitalism, not with people riding bikes (dozens of whom use the Roland Ave cycletrack anyway, not “an occasional cyclist”).

    • The owner cites other, more significant factors, but also notes the negative impact of the cycle track. Given how many people didn’t like the new track, and that it caused disruption along that commercial strip, it doesn’t seem justified to tell the owner that it’s ‘ridiculous’ to say that the cycle track had a negative impact on his business. Do you know his business and customers better than he does?

    • I have no dog in this fight, as I own neither a bicycle nor a car. But it occurs to me that if elderly drivers can’t deal with the presence of a simple bike lane, I probably would rather not have them driving on roads that my kids cross on a daily basis. It seems like a fatal accident waiting to happen.

  3. Harold and Arnold will be sorely missed! Back in the 60’s when I was in high school, I went there nearly every day after school to wait for my dad , who worked downtown. I was supposed to be doing homework at the Enoch Pratt library across the street, until picked up to go home, in northern Baltimore County. Harold and Arnold welcomes me, joked with me and gave me snacks. I’ve lived in Maine now for 30 years, and still occasionally stop in to chat when back in Baltimore. I wish you the best, H and A!

  4. Heck, Gundy’s gift shop was in the same shopping center for 50 years! When Gundy’s left, that was the death knell. How long can Eddie’s last…?

  5. Tuxedo Pharmacy has been such a blessing; I’m going to miss them. In addition to the personal interactions with owners and staff that took the time and interest to get to know my family, they would deliver whenever we needed. I wish the Davidovs the best; they deserve it.

  6. Any technicians need jobs apply at UMMS .
    Opportunities for advancement, and they pay a LOT better than hospital outpatient used to pay…

  7. Like other long-term customers, we will miss Tuxedo

    Wishing the Davidoff families best wishes. And, thanks to the friendly, welcoming staff. I’m glad most will continue to work at CVS; it will be nice to see familiar faces.
    With appreciation

    John & Sue Talbott

  8. Charlesemead Pharmacy wishes the Davidoff family and All Empolyee the best for 2019. Charlesmead Pharmacy also Welcomes any patient that wants to work with an small local independent pharmacy. Come in for a Milkshake!! 410 435 0210

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