The era of the corner drug store fades away in Silver Lake [update]

Sun Lake Drugs and Dean Ng 6-6-2015 11-36-51 AM
sunset and parkman mapSILVER LAKE —  A few years after becoming a pharmacist, Dean Ng became the owner of  Sun Lake Drugs store at Sunset Boulevard and Parkman Avenue. “I would never work for a chain,” said Ng, who joined the ranks of  the countless pharmacists who dispensed pills, cough medicine and advice from corner drug stores around the country. But when Ng’s customers call to refill prescriptions later this week, they will be directed to the Rite-Aid in Echo Park. After nearly 40 years in business, Ng is closing up shop.

A drug store has operated at the same corner for about 80 years, said Ng, who purchased Sun Lake Drug from previous owners and leases the space from the landlord.  But given rising rents along Sunset Boulevard, lower insurance reimbursements and stiff competition from much larger chain stores, Ng said it’s unlikely that a pharmacy will ever operate at the same corner again.

“There will be no drug store here, definitely,” said Ng, who will close after Tuesday, June 23.

Ng said he had filled in on Saturdays for the previous pharmacist before buying the business in 1977. There were still the remnants of a four-stool drug store soda counter in the corner of the store.  But the counter was removed long ago, and, last week, the shelves of Sun Lake Drugs were beginning to look bare as Ng prepared to close.

He said he had always planned to retire by age 70. But with the challenges of running an independent drug store growing, Ng decided it was time to close up shop two years ahead of schedule.

Ng, who lives in Monterey Park, said his retirement plans are pretty simple: “I’m going to take it easy.”

Update:  The drug store space is now up for lease, with the landlord seeking a monthly rent of between $5.25 to $6.25 a square foot, according to LoopNet.

Sun Lake Drugs and Dean Ng 6-6-2015 11-22-49 AM

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    What needs to be done to save that awesome sign?

  2. Margarita Gutierrez

    One of the nicest man; so sorry to see him go.

  3. So sad to lose the independent pharmacist and the nostalgic history of this corner. What will replace the pharmacy? What kind of business would Silver Residents like to see at this corner?

  4. Barragans, El Batey, Crown shoes, Sun Lake pharmacy, etc. Whatever neighborhood character EP had is being replaced by more bars, greedy developers, and racist pilates instructors but at this point, it has nothing to do with neighborhood character. It’s become all about location, location, location. Otherwise, nothing cool or “hip” about the rest, e.g., that British pub that took the place of Barragans has resulted in no improvement and a real disappointment.

    • Barragans served slop…the food was terrible. Evelia was awesome, but she failed to take advantage of the hundreds of new potential customers cycling through Chango right next door, every single day, by stocking things they would want to buy. Same for Crown Shoes…even long term residents chimed in to say it sucked, and if you can’t figure out what you need to carry to sell shoes to hipsters (I mean, c’mon), then you shouldn’t be in the shoe business in the first place.

      Now Sun Lake is closing, mostly because it can’t compete with the large chains nearby (an old story repeated everywhere, not just in EP), and still you blame the white people.

      Anyway, I’m not sure why you care so much from your armchair over on the west side. Expect us not to expect you.

      • Not that I generally support Proper Dos’ invective, but in this case I wouldn’t say he specifically blames white people.

        • “greedy developers”…”racist pilates instructors”…who do you think he’s talking about?

          • I don’t know that the greedy developers demolishing our community are all white(?), but I DO Know that greed is not a characteristic reserved for whites. The racist pilates instructor happens to be white Aaand an immigrant(?!) Aaand established in a predominantly “Mexican” neighborhood. I also wouldn’t classify her particular brand of insanity as exclusively “white”. It just so happens that many of my posts expose an underlying degree of guilt, insecurity, and/or cognitive dissonance that some would rather keep private. Not unlike the racist pilates instructor who insisted that her comments were private and not a relevant reflection of her public persona or dedication to our community (huh?). Anyway, the “race card” is a weak cop-out but it’s all some have left beyond reason and an actual sense of honesty, integrity, or righteousness.

          • So, unlike you stated above: “more bars, greedy developers, and racist pilates instructors”, it’s really just one. ONE Pilates instructor…… who’s destroying your barrio. So much for the resilience of your culture. Pretty weak IMO if it can be uprooted by a single Pilates instructor, El Douche.

          • “It’s really just one. ONE Pilates instructor” That’s just the one pilates instructor that exposed herself. You have to be naive (unlikely) or stupid (established) to assume she’s the only one in this predominantly “latino” community who harbors those opinions. In fact, I see plenty of evidence otherwise on these message boards every day, i.e., your coded messages don’t get by us and even if we’re wrong, it’s safer to err in favor of documented history than wide-eyed optimism. Although that can be nice too for those who can afford it.

          • El Douche, I pronounce you culturally deficient. Take your vitamins.

          • ESFarts, I declare you culturally irrelevant . . . Btw, what is “your” culture?

          • Northern European: Swedish, English, German and Irish! Amazing cultures that have shaped history, the arts, sciences etc. Very proud of my culture.

            What’s your culture? Cheap rent and burritos?

      • Those greedy white developers…they forced the Barragan family sell their building for millions! hasta la victoria siempre!

        • That british pub is for A-holes. Barragans was a classic and had the drinking crowds hands down. Fit the vibe, now it’s lost.

          CLINT LUKENS is the developer/realtor, pink shirt “business man” who lives in a gated community in Silverlake, that’s who you guys are speaking of. ;>)


      • I’ve got news for you “gringo”, The food served at virtually ALL Mexican eateries that cater to the general public is SLOP. I certainly don’t pay to eat it. In fact, I challenge you to name your favorite Mexican eatery in EP and your favorite specialty of theirs and I’ll honestly let you know what Mexicans think of their food. I doubt your up for the challenge but you’re also not going to convince me that anything they’re serving at the english pub is any better. Hell(?!), they can’t even make a decent batch of fish n’ chips(?!?). That’s DISGRACEFUL.

        • What do you mean by general public? The people that generally live in a neighborhood? General public in Echo Park would mean Mexicans and Mexican Americans, right? Get it together El Douche, you’re coming apart at the seams.

          • “The people that generally live in a neighborhood?” NO ESFarts. The general public who doesn’t know the difference between authentic Mexican food and the slop they serve at most Mexican restaurants. You know(?). Like the long line of fools lining-up for that taco truck on Alvarado. Just one sleepless night following consumption of their food should be the tip-off but what would you know about it, Pops? You stick to Taco Bell, Doritos-shelled tacos, and a large Mountain Dew . . . “Arriba-Arriba!”

          • “Arriba, arriba!”? Seriously? Your writers must be smoking bad dope to think that’s funny. Get some new material and come back when you’re coherent. Otherwise, your chalupa is waiting.

          • What’s a “chalupa”, pilgrim?

          • El Douche, I pronounce you culturally deficient. Take your vitamins.

        • I haven’t been to the fake English pub, nor do I have any desire to do so, and my favorite Mexican food in EP is the taco stand that sets up nights at the corner of 2nd & Beaudry.

          Do you have any recommendations for a decent place to get Mexican food on the west side? I might be over in your part of town later this week.

          • “my favorite Mexican food in EP is the taco stand that sets up nights at the corner of 2nd & Beaudry.” Good answer. Wrong truck, but it’s decent. Lulas in Santa Monica or Tlapazola in Venice is your best bet on the westside. It’s authentic-eclectic. A bit fresher and less predictable but who travels west to eat authentic mexican food? “Go East, gringo-man!” and revive your taste buds with a harmless bowl of birria with all the fixins. Btw, I also give my approval to “Guisados.” Reminds me of the tacos my mom would make from leftover stew meat aka cocido. You’ll have to find my favorites on your own but I will confirm your correct choices . . . “Adios, Gringo!”

      • simple economics; current demand for the area is for mainstream stores; less demand for quinceaners; green has no color…

    • Culturally Unwelcoming

      “…Sun Lake pharmacy, etc. Whatever neighborhood character EP had…”

      when did the corner of Sunset and Silver Lake move to Echo Park?

    • What’s the over/under on when El Chubasco closes down?

    • LA has lost more culturally important landmarks than these old stores. You should be used to it by now. Its a city not your museum exhibit of a neighborhood you believe once existed. The great ones usually hopefully survive (Langers) but not even they are safe from changing times. Adjust. Take pictures. Move on.

  5. I would be interested in opening a house made soda fountain, ice cream parlor, coffee shop in there… if the rent was $3/ft and came with 3 months rent concession. Anyone know what it’s going to go for? If anyone knows the building owner’s info I would appreciate it.

  6. Carsmakepeoplestupid

    The truck that crashed into his store last year did him in. Probably drunk, hi or texting. Road diets and slower speeds for cars everywhere!!

  7. This is a real loss. Dean and Aura were the best! They knew the names of every one’s children and would advise on the best prices, when your own doctor had no idea who much the drug companies would gouge you. I could go on and on about the things he and his staff did for the neighborhood people, but it wasn’t just the car slamming into the shop that killed the business.. It was the City Permit Department who insisted that the rebuild after the accident was a ‘remodel’ and forced him to pull all new permits and spend thousands of dollars that he didn’t have. Someone should do an investigative piece on what really happened to this small business owner after the accident. It was shameful!

    • Regarding the accident, all repairs and city required upgrades were paid out of pocket by the property owner and the property insurance company. Dean’s ongoing challenge was competition and lower insurance payments, making it difficult or impossible to find another independent pharmacist interested in buying his business.


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