Longtime Keene pharmacy to close this month

By Sierra Hubbard Sentinel Staff

After nearly 50 years in business, The Apothecary in Keene will close its doors March 30, the business announced in a news release Monday.

All customer files have been transferred to Eastern States Compounding Pharmacy in Littleton, which is licensed to mail prescriptions across New England, the release says. Customers can call The Apothecary at 357-0200 to be forwarded to Eastern States Compounding.

Mary Roentsch, owner of the independent pharmacy in downtown Keene, is closing so she and The Apothecary’s pharmacist, Susie Harris, can retire, according to the release. Harris was unreachable for comment Monday.

The late George Roentsch opened The Apothecary in 1969, “renowned in the Monadnock region for compounding prescriptions” — that is, creating medications for each patient at the pharmacy rather than their being manufactured in a lab — according to the release. George Roentsch worked at the business until he suffered a heart attack in 2009. George died in late 2011, and Mary, his wife, took over as owner of the business.

Joanne Devost of Winchester was a customer of The Apothecary seven years ago. Devost said Mary Roentsch helped her find a medication to prevent a miscarriage.

“I feel they played an instrumental role in keeping my son alive,” Devost said via Facebook.

Though she hasn’t needed a prescription from The Apothecary since then, Devost said she has stopped in the Main Street shop occasionally to say hello. She said the old-fashioned family service is an asset that’s rare in today’s world.

“(We’ll lose) that personal feel, that attention you get from someone who takes pride in what they do, not just someone doing it for the money,” Devost said.

Greenwald Realty owns The Apothecary’s space at 35 Main St., and Mitchell H. Greenwald stressed that the pharmacy’s decision to close is not a reflection of the economy downtown. Greenwald, who is also a city councilor, said Monday that The Apothecary will be sorely missed, adding that it was “a successful business, not going out due to failure.”

Looking ahead, Greenwald said he plans to strip the space’s interior down to the bare floors and walls so any potential tenant can work with a clean slate.

He said he’s hoping to find a retailer to move in.

“Definitely not a bar,” Greenwald said. “Probably, almost certainly, not a restaurant. I think we’ve got enough of those.”

There’s even a second space below The Apothecary that Greenwald said he might revive, if building codes will allow.

Though the pharmacy’s space won’t be ready for several weeks, Greenwald said he’s looking for input from the public on what they want to see in the space and wants to hear from any retail businesses looking to open, expand or relocate to Main Street.

“I just want a good addition to downtown,” he said.

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SierraHubbardKS.

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