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.
“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.”
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