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Hampden Pharmacy Closes After 20 Years

Pharmacist Patrick Burke decided to close the pharmacy he has owned for two decades because of regulations and looming competition.

It could have been any other day at in the heart of Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood. Employees chatted with customers, answered questions and filled prescriptions.

Owner Patrick Burke sat in the back office and occasionally handed an employee medicine from a mini-refrigerator.

But the conversations all eventually came back to the one subject on everyone's minds: the pharmacy is closing. As of Tuesday night, Burke is shuttering the pharmacy he has run at Chestnut Avenue and 36th Street for 20 years.

“It’s a sad day, mixed emotions,” said Burke, 47. 

He said he’s happy to be getting out from underneath some of the headaches and stress that come along with running the pharmacy. But he added that he's sad when he sees the faces of the people who have come there for years. 

“It was time,” Burke said.

Burke, of Owings Mills, said a combination of too many federal regulations and the impending threat of a new Walmart at 25th Street Station combined to leave him too fatigued to continue operating the store he has owned since May 1991.

“The bottom line is that even if they don’t kill you, they hurt you enough,” Burke said about Walmart.

The other two stores he owns, Burke’s Pharmacy in Reisterstown and Burke’s , will remain open.  

Dottie Shea of Hampden said she has been coming to the pharmacy since the early 1980s when Burke’s mentor Ronald Lubman owned it. She said she’ll be sad to see the pharmacy go because of all the help Burke has given her through the years.

Shea said in the 1990s she was suffering from liver disease and was having trouble getting one of her prescriptions filled. She said that Burke made calls to Texas and got the medicine she needed. He even put her on a payment plan to help her afford the medication.

“He just took over and there were no worries,” Shea said. 

She said her husband died suddenly this May, and that he used to take care of dealing with health insurance and filling her prescriptions. Shea said Burke has helped her deal with those tasks ever since.

Now she will have to get her prescriptions filled at the Rite Aid in the Rotunda.  

“It’s just devastating,” Shea said.

Amanda Harris, 28, works at the cigarette and candy counter at the front of the pharmacy. She has worked there for the last 3½ years and said that she’ll miss the customers.

But she also must worry about finding a new job.

"I don’t think it’s going to hit me until tomorrow when I wake up and have nowhere to go,” Harris said.

Michael P. McKenzie September 28, 2011 at 09:53 PM
I completely disagree,..poor people like Wal-mart because they have the cheapest prices...I notice people who can afford higher prices are shopping there also...and Wal-mart provides lots of jobs because there stores are so big...everyone I have spoke to who worked for Wal-mart said they treated them good in every way...furthermore when small businesses give good customer service and the products people want, they keep their loyal customers. All the people I know in Hampden can't wait for Wal-mart to open...and Loew's...both being convenient for us here in the city.
lisa September 29, 2011 at 01:49 PM
I was told by the staff at the reisterstown store that they were also closing-Wednesday the 28th was their last day. Was very sorry to hear it, I have no intention of going to Rite Aid.
Amand Harris September 30, 2011 at 09:28 AM
Im Amanda Harris and I worked at Chestnut pharmacy and I would personally never work 4 a Walmart EVER! They suck the life out of communities. Im the one whos out of a job. I did alot more then just sell candy and cigarettes there. I answered phones for refills,I handled most of the ordering,I helped in the back doing bills and money orders and of course I ran the lottery. When something went wrong on my end,I always was on the phone trying 2 fix it. I loved that place,my co workers and my customers. I wish this wouldnt have happened. To inform everyone all 3 stores closed not just ours alot of good people lost there jobs we all didnt have a position at Riteaid waiting for us. This is very hard,I never been on unemployment. Now Im just another satistic.
ALan Z. Forman October 03, 2011 at 05:48 AM
So who do we have to thank for this? Big government or big Walmart? Putting yet another Ma & Pa operator out of business. Wait a minute, looks like it's both. A perfect example of bigger that is totally not better. ALan Z. Forman Managing Editor Voice of Baltimore
Aamir February 24, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Amanda my name is Aamir and i am a pharmacist for last 12 years i understand what you been going thru right now, i dont no what your Job status is but we need to talk and please send me your resume at saamir76@yahoo.com,call at MEDICAP PHARMACY 410-638-2730....leave me a message if i am not there......ASAP....THANKS

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