Russell Harcha, owner of Wurster Pharmacy, 1220 Kinney’s Lane, will officially close the doors Wednesday, selling their inventory to CVS pharmacy.
Harcha purchased the company from Albert Egbert in December 1977. Egbert had begun operating from the Kinney’s Lane location in 1962.
“I just completed my 33rd year,” Harcha said as he sat behind the small office elevated just above the counter. “I started out working for Albert Egbert when I was in high school in 1952. I worked at Wurster’s for several years down on 419 Chillicothe St., and then, because I liked pharmacy, I went away to Ohio State and studied pharmacy, and then when he wanted to retire back in 1977, he called and we made arrangements to buy the drug store and came back to Portsmouth because we lived in Columbus.”
Harcha’s son, Chuck Harcha, also a pharmacist, has worked at the pharmacy on Kinney’s Lane for 20 years.
“We had been working together,” Harcha said. “He (Chuck) was my vice president, and things have been going very well for the 33 years. However, we were offered a buyout at a price I couldn’t pass up and they gave him a good job. And he said, ‘Dad, go ahead,’ because he didn’t particularly want to be an owner of a business.”
The Wurster Drug Company began in 1897 at Second and Court streets in the old Enos Reed building, which has been in operation since the Civil War days.
Chuck Harcha will work for the CVS Pharmacy at 2812 Scioto Trail, where the stock will be moved.
Russell Harcha said the CVS Pharmacy is in the same neighborhood of many of his regular customers.
Harcha was asked what changes he had seen in the pharmacy business over his 33 years.
“The biggest change has been that the insurance companies have taken over not only the medical profession, but the pharmacy profession,” Harcha said. “We used to price our own prescriptions, and we tried to be fair, the usual customary charge, and everybody in town was pretty much competitive. Now the insurance companies come in and they say, ‘this is what we will pay you for filling Mrs. Jones’ prescription. Take it or leave it.’”
Harcha said insurance companies often reimburse pharmacies below their cost for prescription drugs.
“I’ve talked to physicians in town and they have told me they have the same thing,” Harcha said. “This is one reason I determined that it was time. Not that we were losing money or headed in the wrong direction. The main thing was if you are offered a particular price for your business upon retirement you had better take it.”
Harcha was asked about his plans for the Kinney’s Lane building and his future.
“The building I still own,” Harcha said. “And I’m going to look for a tenant, and if someone offered me a price that I couldn’t refuse I would sell the building.”
Harcha said he has no plans for his retirement, but looks to pick up some hobbies and travel.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.