By Stephen N. Roche
The store was across the street from the Comcast office left vacant when it moved to Audubon this past spring, as soon as Comcast's contract with Gloucester City expired.
Zeises was in his 21st year at the pharmacy, which he said opened several years before he arrived there, replacing the old Quality Drug store at the site. RXD will also close three stores in Camden, ending its retail presence - as RXD - in New Jersey altogether. Stores in Erial and Blackwood were closed many years ago, Zeises said, and another, in Collingswood, closed just five years ago. RXD's corporate headquarters remains on Haddon Avenue in Collingswood.
In addition to Zeises and a few fill-in pharmacists two or three evenings each week, the store employed five women, four of them from Gloucester City. Five-year employee Wendy Burns, Carolyn Hans, Charline Evans and Amy Rusk, all from this city, and 18-year RXD employee Penny Soboleski, of Erial, said they were offered the opportunity to apply for jobs at the Rite Aid in the Brooklawn Shopping Center, but none seemed interested in taking the offer - for now. Zeises said he expects he will go there. "I don't even know where it is," he said. "They told me it used to be an Eckerd's." Across the street sits two vacant store, one at
Across the street sits two vacant stores. One at 520 Monmouth Street was used for several decades as the local office for the cable company. To rent it call Labbree Reality at 456-8228. The other store, at 524 Monmouth Street was a jewelry store and most recent the office for a spring water company. That is up For Sale, realtor is Hambleton- Stewart Realty call 456-3144.
"We just found out Friday (July 11)," Burns said. The news came as a shock to local customers and to the next-door Gloucester City Grocery Store as well, as workers there wondered who, if anyone, would occupy the drug store premises after Tuesday.
The 525 Monmouth property had been leased by RXD for nearly 25 years, originally from Wally Funk, Zeises said, but there have been a number of successive owners since then. He said he was not aware who the current owner is.
The longtime pharmacist said he felt continuing and increasing difficulty receiving insurance company payments over the past few years, despite a brisk pharmacy business with many steady customers, was the main reason for the corporate decision to close even active stores at this time.
Contacted early last Thursday, Robert Milner, Chairman of RXD Inc., echoed what Zeises stated regarding the reasons for the New Jersey closings. "It's the economy," Milner said. "The PBMs (Payment Benefit Managers) at the insurance companies aren't compensating us sufficiently to keep up with our costs. We will be merging our operations with Rite Aid Corp." to increase the company's leverage with product providers, reduce costs and, hopefully, increase revenues. RXD's remaining branded retail holdings consist of five stores in Philadelphia and upstate Pennsylvania.
The store's closing leaves two gaping holes in the city's retail district at a time when contracted consultants, the Urban Enterprise Zone and the Gloucester City Business Association have been cooperating with city officials to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, especially in the Monmouth Street and Broadway areas.
Reminded that the Monmouth Street store has had a large pedestrian clientele, chairman Milner said "It's a shame. We're assuring everyone that their records will go to the Rite Aid in Brooklawn, and their doctors can call in their usual prescriptions and have them delivered. We expect Al will be there and take good care of them."
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