SILVER 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.
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