A mom-and-pop pharmacy is settling into its new location this week in Arlington Heights, after nearly a century in downtown Mount Prospect.
Keefer's Pharmacy opened its doors Monday in a larger strip mall location at 2012 E. Northwest Hwy., moving about a mile from its longtime storefront at 5 W. Prospect Ave. near the Mount Prospect Metra station. The Arlington Heights location housed the shuttered Bellevue Pharmacy.
Keefer's owner Beau Diab says the state-of-the-art location is bigger -- about double the size -- with more room for pharmacists to make customized prescriptions, a better IT infrastructure, and additional offices and storage space.
The retail space is smaller -- though Diab says there is just as much shelve space -- and rest assured, the store's trademark "penny candy" is still being sold. The big wooden candy counter didn't move to the new location, but a smaller old metal candy tray did.
"There's not going to be a shortage of candy," Diab said.
Diab, who moved to the new location 10 years to the day after he purchased Keefer's, said he had been planning to relocate or remodel for some time because of new federal regulations.
Despite the prevalence of big box pharmacy chains, Keefer's has carved out a niche -- and gained a loyal customer base -- by compounding medications to fill individualized orders. Most medications from chain pharmacies come in predetermined doses.
"Not everybody fits in that mold, and that's where we come in," Diab said.
Not only does Keefer's make and fill individualized prescriptions for humans, but a big part of the business is pet medications, Diab said.
The new location has eight counters for the six staff pharmacists to do their work, compared to only one counter at the old location. They use a host of equipment, including scales, hoods and ointment mills, which break down particles.
"It's a real pharmacy. It's what pharmacists have always done," said Jerry Pospisil, who owned Keefer's from 1976 to 2007 and still works there as a pharmacist. "We're proud of it because it's a skill and an art. People seek us out from all over."
Pospisil purchased the pharmacy from Jack Keefer, who ran the business for 27 years. The original owner was Stanley Burda, who opened the pharmacy in the early 1920s.
The store's location was once on the other side of the train tracks in downtown Mount Prospect, but Keefer moved it to 5 W. Prospect Ave. in 1966. It's unclear what will become of the old Keefer's location.
"It's sad and melancholy we're moving, but the good thing is we're moving on," Pospisil said. "We're not closing. Most independent pharmacies have faded away."