Last updated: February 19. 2013 3:31PM - 327 Views

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Customers filed in to pick up their prescriptions, but most came in to say goodbye.

It's been an emotional two weeks, said Pete Konicki, owner of Konicki Pharmacy on Main Street in Dupont.

After 28-and-a-half years, Konicki closed his doors on Friday, a victim of big medicine.

Shrinking reimbursements from the insurance companies and mail order prescriptions, Konicki said. They were the two biggest factors that did us in.

Konicki's was about as hometown as they come.

Besides medication, the two aisles of the store were filled toys and decorations and candy. The soda fountain was removed years ago and replaced with a greeting card aisle.

I met a lot of great people here, Konicki said. I made a lot of friends. It's humbling to know that these people still remember my dad. They still remember my uncle. They still remember the soda fountain that used to be right there, he added pointing to the Hallmarks.

The Konicki Pharmacy got its start down the street in Dupont when his uncle, John Konicki, opened up in 1932. It moved to its current location sometime in the 1940s or 1950s. John Konicki ran the business until he died in 1970. Anther pharmacy moved in for several years, but the building remained vacant for much of the time.

In 1984, Konicki graduated from Temple University School of Pharmacy and he and his father re-opened the business.

It's been a Dupont fixture ever since.

I never lost sight of the family angle, he said. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity. I never lost sight of that.

Some bigger pharmacies diversified to stay afloat.

They carved out little niches, he said. Some do high volume or compounding of medical equipment such as beds, walkers, commodes.

But he discussed the economics of independent retail pharmacy.

You've seen this happen before, he said. Redicka's up the street closed a few years ago. Burke's up in Scranton was over 100 years old and they closed. Crossroads Pharmacy (in Hanover Township). The list goes on and on.

But with Konicki's small store and location, he said his focus was prescriptions and quality customer service.

That's what I wanted to do, he said. I want every customer of mine to know that I took their prescription very seriously. That's what kept me here all these years.

He said he was much more comfortable when he stepped out from behind the counter and talked to his customers one-on-one, eye-to-eye.

That's the number one thing I'm going to miss about this, he said. The thousands of people I've helped.

He's spent the greater part of the past several weeks saying farewell.

It's very difficult for me, he said. I didn't get chance to say goodbye to everyone, but over the last two weeks I've tried. Anyone who came in the store, I've been personally thanking them.

He said he wants every customer to know how much he appreciated their business.

I'm thankful for their patronage and their trust in me, he said. I'm grateful they trusted me to be their pharmacist.

He said the Rite Aid, between Laurel Street and the Pittston ByPass in the Laurel Plaza, has obtained all the prescription data from his pharmacy.

At 52, Konicki is unsure of his future. He said pharmacist jobs are tougher and tougher to come by.

He said the influx of pharmacy graduates is high with six pharmacy schools across the state. Also, the chains are cutting back on 24-hour pharmacy service.

It's tough out there, he said.

For Konicki, it's always been a family affair.

His wife, Mary, and their sons David, 25, and Jimmy, 22, have supported him in good times and in bad. David is an engineer and Jimmy is in insurance sales.

His sons' Eagle Scout pictures hung prominently in the store.

His brother, John, occupies a dentist office in the same building.

His longtime worker Elaine Duzen, along with students and customers he considered part of his family.

This just isn't a pharmacy that's going away, he said. It's really a whole family.

When dealing with customers, he had one simple rule.

I wanted to get the customers in and out as quickly as possible, he said. The big chains want you to stay for 20 minutes, but I never bought into that.

If there was a mother with a sick baby with a prescription for an antibiotic, that mother got priority, even if there were three other people standing in line.

She was up all night with her sick baby and they're both exhausted, he said. The last thing she wants to do is spend time in a drug store. And second, there's the sick baby. All that mother wants to do is get that baby home and give him the medicine and make him well. That's how I operate.

A steady stream of customers stopped in to say goodbye.

Ceil Piechota wished Konicki well. The lifelong Dupont resident said she's been coming to Konicki's much of her life.

We'll miss you. Thank you. I wish you luck in the future, she said.

Alfred Lis of Dupont walked in and Konicki immediately asked him about his dog.

They chatted a bit.

Everything's going down and my bills are going up, he told Lis about the closing.

The men shook hands and Lis departed.

Konicki's is a piece of Dupont, he said. We're losing a piece of Dupont.

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