Employees of Pfaff Pharmacy, 1125 Washington Ave. in Grand Haven, said they were shocked when management from Hometown Pharmacy visited the store Friday to inform them of the business' demise.
Employee Cody Foss stood behind the Pfaff counter late Friday, an empty soda fountain counter to his right and glass jars full of colorful candy to his left. Unfortunately, he was stuck in the middle, a man who had learned just hours earlier his job of six years would be gone.
Foss said he took some solace in the fact that he would be on spring break vacation, but the news still hit hard and reverberated.
“It's a shock,” he said. “I was with the company before Hometown Pharmacy took over (five years ago). I can kind of understand why they did it (decided to close), it's just the way they did it that kind of threw me for a loop.”
Foss said management informed employees individually on Friday. He said it's not clear if any employees will have the opportunity to transfer to other Hometown Pharmacy stores, nor is it clear what will happen to the building.
Foss, who plans to pursue a career in psychotherapy, said it sounds like the business was not generating enough revenue.
“From what I'm getting out of the situation, the store was not making money up to their standards,” he said.
Newaygo-based Hometown Pharmacy purchased the long-time Grand Haven pharmacy in 2013 from Dwayne Bloemers, who decided to retire after leading the east-side business for 33 years. At that time, Hometown Chief Operating Officer Jim Mathews said customers would see few changes in service at Pfaff’s.
Mathews and Bloemers knew each other from pharmacy school at Ferris State University (then College) in the 1970s. Mathews went on to launch Dunewood Pharmacy in Grand Haven in the mid-1980s.
At the time of the purchase, Hometown owned about 40 pharmacies that were once independently owned.
According to then-store manager Marcie Lynch, the Grand Haven pharmacy was founded in 1910 by Van I. Witt. Carl Hetzel purchased it in 1923. Cliff Pfaff bought out Hetzel 30 years later.
On Friday, an employee who asked not to be named said the news came as a complete shock. He had been with the company since 2011.
“The district manager told us today,” he said Friday. “This is quite a shock. We're supposed to keep it kind of hush-hush. It's been kind of tough.”
Hometown spokesman Jim Grice did not return phone calls as of press time.