RED BANK: PHARMACY CLOSING TODAY

Tom McGrath wishes Mary Respol well on her final day of 26 years working for the Yura family. A passerby checks out the window display, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Sad day at Red Bank’s Professional Pharmacy.

A mainstay for late-night-prescriptions and other medical needs for 61 years, the Broad Street apothecary and gift shop is closing down Tuesday at 10 p.m., and a stream damp-eyed well-wishers and bargain hunters have been flowing through the store to say goodbye to old friends, staffers said.

“We have customers who’ve moved out out town but still come back,” said Mary Respol, the store’s most veteran employee. “It’s family.”

Owner and pharmacist Michael Yura said a host of factors went into the decision to close, including the growing practice of health insurers steering their customers to particular drug chains for prescriptions.

“It’s something we’re getting locked out on,” he told redbankgreen at lunchtime. “I have customers of 20, 30, 40 years who can’t come here anymore. And it’s just going to get worse” as insurers expand the practice, he said.

“I can’t continue to do on my own what Red Bank has allowed me to do,” said Yura, who took over the business from his father, Richard Yura. “It’s just time for me to move on.”

Customer accounts have been sold to the Rite Aid chain, which transfer them to its store in the City Centre shopping plaza on Water Street after the close of business Tuesday, Yura said.

The closing puts 30 employees out of work, he said.

“It’s a sad day, obviously, for the employees, but also for the community,” said Tom McGrath, of River Plaza in Middletown.

“We enjoy coming here, even if it is for prescriptions,” said Red Banker Gladys Bowen.

Yura owns the building, which boasts 25 dedicated parking spaces out back and 7,300 square feet of selling space, not to mention 2,200 square feet of storage area on the second floor. He intends to find a tenant rather than sell, he said.

“I love Red Bank, and I’d love to invest in it,” he said.