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A fixture in Falcon Heights and the Como Park neighborhood for more than 70 years, Blomberg Pharmacy, 1583 N. Hamline Ave., has been sold to Walgreen’s.

“It was the right business decision but will never be the right heart decision,” co-owner Richard Zunker said. “I would have preferred to have stayed here for the next 20 years.”

The pharmacy closed on Wednesday, April 27, but the store will be open through the end of May to liquidate its stock of greeting cards, giftware and medical supplies. Zunker and partner Robert Koziol do not own the building, but have a lease that runs through November.

Koziol is planning to retire but Zunker, who is 48, is taking a position at a friend’s pharmacy in Blaine.

Zunker and Koziol bought Blomberg’s from Julie Johnson and Norma Nisle eight years ago. They were the fourth owners of the pharmacy, which opened in 1943. Zunker and Koziol also owned Erickson Drug in Lakeville, which they also sold to Walgreen’s.

Closing Blomberg’s wasn’t an easy decision, Zunker said, but with customers being pressured by insurance companies to get their prescriptions filled through mail order and the increased paperwork resulting from the federal Affordable Care Act, small independent drugstores are being squeezed, he said. Insurance companies are offering “zero co-pays,” something his store and other independents can’t offer.

It doesn’t help that large chains have moved in and the “younger generation doesn’t see the value in small independents,” Zucker said.

Erickson Drug was the last independent drugstore in Dakota County, “and that’s a pretty big county,” he said. “Sooner or later all that will be left are big chains. I guess all good things must come to an end.”

“We thank everybody for the business they have given us over the years, but it wasn’t enough because of factors out of my control and out of the patients’ control.”

    5 Responses

    1. I owned the other pharmacy in Falcon Heights — Falcon Heights Pharmacy — till it too closed for similar reasons. I always valued the Blomberg Pharmacists as colleagues with the same community dedication and with the same values.
      The value of independent pharmacies is the accessible health care they provide. Their legacy is the untold number of young people for whom the pharmacy is their first job — providing an experience that can positively effect their entire working career.

    2. Glen Herrrington-Hall

      This is heart-breaking. I have always opted to go to Blomberg’s instead of Como HealthPartners, who carries my insurance and where my doctor is, and certainly over Walgreens. Convenient and friendly. They know me, and they have been extra helpful and patient. (I know – I’m in there almost weekly!) I always prefer the local shops. Underground Cafe over Starbucks or Dunn Bros., St. Paul Bagelry over Brueggers, the local Ace over Menards. Trustone over TCF. This is a loss in the neighborhood. Another empty storefront is not what we need.
      No blame on the owners; it’s a tough market to compete in. Thanks for providing such great service, and having such a great staff. Sorry to see you go.

    3. Sara Ann Avelsgaard

      Schneider Drug Store on University Avenue in Minneapolis seems to be kind of similar to Blomberg Pharmacy; I’m going to try that. No way am I going to a conglomerate pharmacy until I absolutely have to do so.
      –peace
      Sara

    4. Stacy P

      This is very sad news. Blomberg Pharmacy was the best pharmacy because of their friendly, convenient, and reliable service. They also had a great and unique selection of homemade crafts that couldn’t be found elsewhere. Independent businesses are the heart and soul of a community and it is pathetic how it has become nearly impossible for them to survive. My husband and I will especially miss chatting with Mike, the friendliest pharmacist ever:). Thank you for the great service, Blomberg. You will be missed!

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