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.